Manent's Conclusion

Manent's conclusion is interesting, important, and controversial. Where can France, and the West more generally, find the leadership necessary to negotiate a workable, friendly relationship with Islam? The state, for all its bluster and its giant bureaucracies, is too weak: as Manent notes, it now operates chiefly in the realm of rhetoric and appearance, and typically fails to engage in meaningful action. The ideology of human rights tries to pretend that Islam, as such, does not exist, and only sees rights-bearing individuals, who happen, on some purely private whim, to read the Koran and fast during Ramadan. Manent's answer will surprise many and offend some:

"Now, it seems to me that what characterizes and distinguishes the Catholic Church within this configuration is, its calmness and equilibrium... The Catholic Church is the only spiritual force that approaches matters in such a way as to take into account the views of others in a deliberate and as it were thematic way. This is eminently the case in its relation to Judaism... The Catholic Church has not only searched its conscience in a very profound way concerning its responsibility for anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism; it has also reconsidered in depth its relation to the Jewish people... It is Catholics who most often have taken the initiative of these 'dialogues' in which one seeks, not only to facilitate coexistence between Catholics and Muslims, but also to give a positive meaning to religious plurality. The Popes themselves, John Paul II most especially, have gone as far as possible in developing the possibility of a perspective common to Christians and to Muslims." -- Beyond Radical Secularism, pp. 103-104


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