...on Muslims when he used the words of Emperor Manuel II Paleologus in his little speech that seemed to upset so many the other day. Peter Robinson at The Corner says Manual has got some serious "street cred" on the subject:
Manuel II Paleologus reigned as emperor of Byzantium from 1391, the year in which he is believed to have composed the text from which the Pope quoted last week, until his death in 1425. A brief overview of his experience of Islam:
1390: Manuel is sent as a hostage to the court of Sultan Bayezid I. As his writings demonstrate, he reads widely in Muslim texts and engages in repeated debates with Muslim scholars. He is also forced to participate in an attack on his own people, the siege of Philadelphia, which eliminated the last Byzantine settlement in Anatolia.
1394-1402: The Ottomans besiege Constantinople. For some five years, Manuel directs the defense of the city in person. Then he entrusts Constantinople to his nephew and embarks on a tour of the West, seeking assistance.
1422: The Ottomans attack Manuel in Constantinople once again.
By the time of his death in 1425, Manuel had spent virtually his entire adult life in the struggle against an armed and expansionist Islam...What one may not, argue, I think, is that Manuel lacked the authority or knowledge to speak about Islam. When he described efforts “to spread by the sword the faith [the Prophet] preached,” he wasn't mouthing some sort of ignorant medieval prejudice. He knew exactly what he was talking about.
...and so did the pope, when he invoked Manual.
Want to be an expert on the matter? Gates of Vienna has an incredibly in-depth dissertation on the pope's challenge to Islam; read it all and be the first in your neighborhood to be able to speak knowingly about "the Roman contribution to Christian praxis"...
At The Brussels Journal they concur with Robinson...
The Pope referred to a Byzantine Emperor, one suspects, purposefully. He may have wished to remind the Turks whom he is due to visit in November that Constantinople is a glorious prize wrested – by jihad, no less – from a predecessor more sublime than the Sublime Porte ever was. Or he may have wished to recall the extinguishing of the Eastern Empire by the very phenomenon of jihad that he condemned.
...and claim that the Muslim response gives the pope a moral victory:
I think that in fact the Pope is the moral victor of the conflict, but whether the Islamic religious and political leaders who have mobilized against him will ever understand (or be able to understand) is another question...
....The fact is that today large parts of the Islamic world apparently do not need reason to mobilize against the Christian world, and incorrect reports can spread through the region at lightning speed while religious or political leaders do nothing to calm down people or bring them to reason...
Quite some moral and intellectual bankruptcy, and how convincing as the ultimate proof that Islam is all about peace and love.
Score it: Pope - 1,
Muslim World and Western Apologists - 0