From the Vatican peanut gallery…

In 1870, The First Vatican Council gave the Pope infallibility in every matter of dogma he would declare to the Church: in other words, whatever he said was true. I speak of these things in past tense, because as of this week, they don’t seem to apply anymore. For those of you who are unaware, let me bring you up to speed. Last Sunday, the Pope apologized for quoting a 14th century Byzantine emperor who said: “show me what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will only find things evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” The ensuing reaction to the Pope’s comment from the Muslim world was one of violence. Churches were bombed in the West Bank. Ambassadors were recalled. A Nun was gunned down in Somalia. Then, the Pope apologized for his remark.

Strangely, when Muslim Imam Suliman Satari said “annihilate the infidels and the polytheists, your enemies and the enemies of religion.Allah, count them and kill them to the last one,” I don’t recall reading about a mass Christian wave of violent protest. Maybe that’s because in the Western World, we’ve become immune to Islamic hate speech, which wouldn’t be surprising, because it seems like just about every week the fiery-hardcore-fundamentalist Clerics have something awesome to say about how much they hate the West. But really, all the explosive action (no pun intended?) seems to be happening on the Muslim side of the world, because every time a comic strip comes out about Mohammed or a rumor circulates about a Koran getting flushed down the toilet, every county from Iran to Indonesia erupts with angry protest against the West and all its evils, like McDonalds and rock music and blue jeans and Family Circus, although perhaps that last one is justified. But I digress.

Granted, the Pope’s comment was potentially explosive. But hey.he’s the Pope. And if the Pope-as the head of the Catholic Church-is taking orders from people who aren’t even of his religion, it makes the Papal Office look like a farce. He can’t really have “infallibility,” because he himself feels the need to apologize for something he said. But even though his politically correct, obsequious gesture made him look like a buffoon, it helped highlight the ridiculous and excessive reactions of the Middle East.

Charles Hanna is a sophomore majoring in architecture. He can be contacted at