One small thing that puzzles me about the speech in Regensburg last week: why was the English translation notably more offensive than what the Pope actually said? If you compare the “English”:http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2006/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060912_university-regensburg_en.html and “German”:http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2006/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060912_university-regensburg_ge.html versions on the Vatican website, the English has “only wicked and inhuman things” for a phrase — _nur Schlechtes und Inhumanes_ — which seems to me and to both [“dictionaries(“Langenscheidt not on line”)”:http://dict.leo.org/?search=inhuman] I have consulted actually to mean “only bad and inhumane things”. In both cases, a mild adjective has been substituted by a much harsher one. Why? If anyone has asked the Vatican, no answer has apeared in print. Yet this one detail seems to me to be a point at which the degree of offence offered to Muslims was clearly increased.
So we might assume that someone in the Pope’s entourage wanted the clash of civilisations reading, even if he didn’t himself; and I remain convinced that he didn’t. This reading is strengthened by Cormac going on the radio this morning to express doubt about whether Turkey should join the EU. What I thought was slimy about that was the way he justified it by claiming that the Turks had not approached EU standards of transparency, democracy, and so on. Well, which EU? Are they really that much worse than the Rumanians, the Bulgarians, or the Croats?