A useful example showing one important reason why Benedict XVI so emphasises the importance of faith and reason in today’s world, thanks to a group of Muslim radicals protesting in London during the Pope’s visit.
Dressed threateningly in balaclavas and kafiehs, holding black flags, and led a by a vociferous preacher, they bellowed: “Down Down Benedict!”, “Benedict: terrorist!” and then without any sense of irony (or rather reason), they chanted: “Benedict! Watch your back!”.
Clearly they hadn’t read or understood the Pope’s Regensburg lecture, or his most recent discourse on faith and reason in Westminster Hall on Friday.
But their preacher then ranted about hedonism in Western society. “Christians!” he yelled to perplexed and frowning passers-by on the other side of the street, protected by an increasingly large number of police officers. “You have forgotten who Jesus really is!”
He was of course making the error of equating Christianity and the Pope with the increasingly secularized West of today, but he had a point.
An Islam which desperately needs to be informed by reason, clashing with a West that has turned away from God and urgently in need of faith – it was to me an apt illustration of the Holy Father’s warnings, vividly brought to life in central London last night.