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Pope gave "Speech of the Year"

December 21, 2006

Remember those remarks Pope Benedict XVI made back in September that caused a firestorm among Muslims worldwide? Well, those remarks earned the University of Tübingen’s annual “Speech of the Year Award.” Considering the fact that Benedict has mixed feelings about having taught at Tübingen, I’m not so sure that this accolade will mean much to the Pope.

For those who may not remember, Benedict quoted a line from a 14th century Byzantine emperor in order to convey the unjustifiable nature of acts of violence in the name of religion. Here’s the line:

“Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

Scholars of Tübingen’s Seminar for General Rhetoric claimed that Benedict’s Regensburg speech was “deliberately misunderstood” by many Muslim leaders and Western media posts. Commenting on the award, seminar member Olaf Kramer had the following to say:

“Our main criterion is how effective a speech was. We look at the ways in which a speech affected public debate and what sort of an international reaction it unleashed, whether it was positive or negative.”

“We expect our decision this year to come in for a certain amount of criticism. But controversy is an integral part of a good speech because rhetoric is based on the taking of sides.”

For a report on the award, see Catholic Online‘s write-up here.

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