CORRECTION -- Pope says reconciliation of Islam with modernity is difficult, not impossible
Headlines were made a few weeks ago when it was suggested that Pope Benedict had declared that Islam was incompatible with modernity because it was the dictated word of God, and as such, not open to interpretation. This turns out to have been a mistatement of his actual words, a mistake that has now been corrected by those who were privileged to hear the exchange. Since we published the article here in UT it is important to correct the record.
"Fr. Fessio agrees with his fellow Jesuits Troll and Samir. And he testifies together with them that, for Benedict XVI, Islam is capable of reform and can be harmonized with modernity. But at a steep price.
A few hours after the previous article on Benedict XVI and Islam was published online by www.chiesa, the contrasting interpretations over the pope's thought were smoothed out.
The disagreement hinged upon whether or not Islam can be reformed, and consequently upon the relationship between Islam and modernity.
The American Jesuit Joseph Fessio -- who participated, together with other former students of Joseph Ratzinger, in a meeting with the pope for the purpose of studying the concept of God in Islam -- had said in a radio interview on January 5 that, at the meeting, the pope had asserted that Islam and modernity cannot be reconciled.
But other participants at the meeting -- Jesuit Islamic studies scholar Christian W. Troll, from Germany, and Samir Khalil Samir, an Egyptian -- gave a different version of the pope's thought. According to their testimony, Benedict XVI had judged the reconciliation of Islam and modernity as very
difficult, but not impossible. "