It is good to raise issues such as the reasonableness of a religion, and whether it is propagated by violence. The Pope is right. Extremists want to shout the discussion down because in their heart of hearts they must know that violence in a religion is wrong. They give no answer but simply demand a retraction of the question.
I heard a brave moderate Moslem speaking on TV last night, an Editor of a Moslem magazine. He did not believe that Islam had a philosophy of propagating itself with violence. It is worthwhile establishing that this is true, and reaching out to moderate Moslems like him, as well as challenging the more extreme versions that are in the marketplace.
This is not to avoid the issues. It’s about addressing the issues in a way that enable the moderates to be heard. There are good Moslems, and we need to be aware of that, while at the same time challenging the ones whose minds have lost sight of reason.
The Pope should ensure his comments address the moderates as well as the extremists. He will find it easy to make the extremists look wrong, because they are wrong. But he might look the less if he fails to acknowledge the good to be found in moderate Moslems. Anyone who wants to present the issues in black and white terms, is oversimplifying. Logic can provide only part of the answer.