VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict's speech last week, which the Muslim world took to condemn Islam for violence, set off a whole series of riots, church burnings and the murder of a nun. The Pope, following multiple failed apologies for his words, announced today, that "to bring peace to himself," he has converted to Islam.
The Pope, wearing the simple garb of a pilgrim on his way to Mecca, read his statement from his balcony that faces St. Peter's Square. The statement was profound in its simplicity and obvious sincerity.
"As of today, I am follower of the Allah's Greatest Prophet and the Final Messenger, Muhammad, blessed be his holy name," said Pope Benedict, formerly Joseph Ratzinger, who has asked to be now called Himar Abdur-Rasool al-Ahad.
"I have come to this decision through much prayer and meditation," the former Pope continued. "It is clear that I offended many of the Muslim faith by my ill-chosen words, but even more so by my long-held beliefs. Finally, after observing the passion of the Muslim believers, I realized Islam is the true way to peace."
As church theologians and religious scholars continue to debate the matter, it is not clear if all observant Catholics are now Muslims or still infidels. "The Pope's ex cathedra statements on doctrinal matters are infallible. Thus, it would seem all committed Catholic believers would be required to become Muslim as well," said Father Geary O'Caughlin, a distinguished teacher of moral theology at the Papal University in Rome.
Other religious authorities are not convinced. "However, it is not clear whether the Pope at the moment of conversion to Islam was still a Catholic and thus still Pope, or already a Muslim and thus just another Muslim imam, whose pronouncements may only be authoritative in matters of spiritual guidance, daily living and suicide bombing," said Dr James C. MacIntyre, a Catholic theologian and professor of theological ethics at Marquette University.
Despite the confusion the Pope's conversion has caused, it has created at least a bit of clarity. What we do know now, the scholars agree, is the answer to the question "Is the Pope Catholic?" The answer is now clearly no.
Copyright 2006, Douglas Salguod