Monday, September 18, 2006


Even popes can commit faux pas, it seems, as Pope Benedict XVI did with his quotation from 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel Paleologos II. Apparently the Pope was trying to reject the notion of religious violence, and he used the quotation to point out that conversion at the point of the sword was irrational. He should have kept his mouth shut.

On the other hand, the threats of violence and actual attack on religious personnel since the incident began causes one to pause. The Roman Catholic Church does not have clean hands with respect to religious violence, no matter how it positions itself today. There are numerous examples in its history where conversion came at the point of swords. That the Church knows better now is good, but from a PR perspective, the pope should have started with self-criticism and worked out to other religions. It would have been best had he avoided the topic.

One doesn't have to be in PR to know that religious issues are inflammatory, even if one is a religious leader. My guess is that the Pope won't make this mistake again.

Now he has to deal with the fallout.


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