Somalia, Iraq, Palestinian Territories: ‘Unreasonable’ Jihad


Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin – No. 396

On 12 September Pope Benedict XVI addressed an academic audience at
the University of Regensburg in Bavaria, southeast . (See
the website link at the end of this RLP.) His address, which he
described as ‘a critique of modern reason from within’, examined
the relationship between reason and faith. Pope Benedict contests
that the Apostle Paul’s divine call to Macedonia (Acts 16:6-10) can
be interpreted as ‘a distillation of the intrinsic necessity of a
rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek inquiry’. Faith and
reason unite!

At the start of his address Pope Benedict referred to a dialogue
during the Ottoman siege of Constantinople (1394 – 1402) between
the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian.
The besieged emperor said that Islamic jihad is evil and inhuman.
He believed advancing Islam by the sword and making converts
through threats of death was inherently unreasonable because
conversion is a matter of the soul, not the flesh, and such
violence is contrary to the very nature of God. Pope Benedict
introduced the body of his speech by posing the question, ‘Is the
conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God’s nature merely
a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?’ Since the
very beginning of time, Pope Benedict said, ‘God acts with logos’
(word, logic, reason). He concluded his address by appealing to his
audience to grow in knowledge by listening to and learning from
others, and accepting the challenge of their questions. He then
extended an invitation to ‘our partners in the dialogue of
cultures’ to join in with this ‘great logos’, this dialogue of

Muslims in many places are protesting the above assertion that
jihad is evil and inherently unreasonable and that it makes a link
between Islam and violence. Most unreasonably and violently they
are threatening jihad against the Pope himself and the Church in
general. Those most immediately at severe risk are the Christian
minorities of the Middle East . The first fatalities occurred in
SOMALIA on Sunday 17 September. Sister Leonella Sgorbati (70), an
Italian nun who had ministered in Somalia for some 40 years, was
ambushed and shot in the back as she left a class she had been
teaching in the Austrian-funded SOS paediatric hospital in
Mogadishu . Her bodyguard also was killed. As Sister Leonella lay
dying she said to those around her, ‘Forgive, forgive, forgive.’

* IRAQ: Al-Qaeda, ‘We Will Destroy the Cross. . .’

Iraq’s Ansar al-Sunna (Defenders of the Tradition) called the Pope
a ‘stupid pig’ and a blasphemer, and exhorted Muslims to do more
than just protest. Al-Qaeda in Iraq has publicly declared, ‘We will
destroy the cross . . . then all that will be accepted will be
conversion or the sword (death). May God enable us to slit their
throats, and make their money and descendants the bounty of the

* PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES : Churches Burned and Threatened

Five churches in Gaza and the West Bank have been damaged and two
destroyed in shooting and arson attacks. The small Christian
minority in Gaza fear this could be the end of their community. On
16 September a Palestinian militant Islamist group, ‘Swords of
Islamic Right’, threatened to blow up all churches and Christian
institutions in the Gaza Strip in protest of Pope Benedict’s words.
They said they were not interested in any apology.


* surround the Christian minorities of the Middle East with his
heavenly forces, especially those believers in the midst of
turmoil in Iraq and the Palestinian Territories who have been
specifically threatened.

‘Oh my Lord, what shall we do?’ the servant asked. ‘Don’t be
afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more
than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open
his eyes so he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes,
and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of
fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-17 NIV)

* frustrate the plans of the wicked who seek to harm the Church of Jesus Christ . (Psalm 146:9)

* pour out his Holy Spirit powerfully, mercifully and wonderfully
so that Muslims throughout the Middle East might be brought to
Christ: may their eyes be opened to see clearly; may their ears
be unstopped to hear clearly; may their minds be liberated to
apply reason; may their hearts be opened to receive the gospel.
(See Galatians 1:23)




Islamic militants in Iraq and the Palestinian Territories (PT) have
threatened to destroy churches and kill Christians in response to
Pope Benedict’s speech at the University of Regensburg . A 14th
Century Byzantine emperor quoted in the Pope’s address had asserted
that violent Islamic jihad is evil and essentially unreasonable
because it is contrary to the very nature of God. Two of seven
churches already attacked in PT have been destroyed. A 70-year-old
nun was ambushed and shot in the back in Somalia. Al-Qaeda in Iraq
has vowed to ‘destroy the cross’, slit the throats of Christians
and make their belongings and children the bounty of the
mujahideen. Please pray for these most vulnerable and endangered
believers, that God will be their deliverer.


Ramadan starts on 24 September – the 30 Day Muslim Prayer Focus is
available at

For the full text of the Pope’s speech at the University of

Protestants will strongly disagree with the Pope’s assertion that
the Reformers sacrificed reason in the pursuit of Biblical faith
but will doubtless not see this as grounds for global Protestant

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Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.