It's been reported in The Times today that the fomrer Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, has defended the Pope for his “extraordinarily effective and lucid” speech. I can't say I disagree with him. What is of particular interest is Carey's taken up of the "clash of civilisations" argument and the idea that the problem is with the inherent political nature of Islam itself. He said:
"The fundamental problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilisation whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power."
The article in the Times also points out that the Pope has received contact from Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who tried to murder John Paul II in 1981. From his Turkish prison he has apparently written tot he Pope urging him that he writes "as one who knows about these matters very well...Your life is in danger. Don’t come to Turkey — absolutely not!"
Now I realise that some find the "Clash of Civilisations" thesis difficult to stomach, but it occured to me on the train that if ever there was a physical clash rather than a battle of ideas that it would require a catalyst. If Agca's words were to become prescient in Turkey, could Benedict XVI become as historically significant as Archduke Ferdinand?
I don't wish to sound like Cassandra here, but I do wonder what the ramifications would be if Benedict XVI were to meet an untimely end at the hands of Islam?