"On the one hand, one must counter a dictatorship of positivist reason that excludes God from the life of the community and from public organizations .?.?. On the other hand, one must welcome the true conquests of the Enlightenment, human rights, and especially the freedom of faith and its practice, and recognise these also as being essential elements for the authenticity of religion. As in the Christian community, where there has been a long search to find the correct position of faith in relation to such beliefs - a search that will certainly never be concluded once and for all - so also the Islamic world with its own tradition faces the immense task of finding the appropriate solutions to these problems. The content of the dialogue between Christians and Muslims will be at this time especially one of meeting each other in this commitment to find the right solutions. We Christians feel ourselves in solidarity with all those who, precisely on the basis of their religious convictions as Muslims, work to oppose violence and for the synergy between faith and reason, between religion and freedom?.?.?."
Translated from Vatican English into standard English, Benedict was suggesting the following. First, history itself has put before the Islamic world the "urgent task" of finding a way to accommodate the intellectual and institutional achievements of the Enlightenment: the Muslim world can no longer live as if the Enlightenment, in both its achievements and its flaws, had not happened. The intra-Islamic civil war over these questions has spilled out of the House of Islam and now affects the entire world. That blunt fact of 21st-century public life underscores the urgency of the task facing Islam's religious leaders and legal scholars.
Second, this necessary Islamic encounter with Enlightenment thought and the institutions of governance that grew out of Enlightenment thought requires separating Enlightenment wheat from Enlightenment chaff. The scepticism and relativism that characterise one stream of Enlightenment thought need not be accepted. Yet one can (and must) make a distinction between the ideas that the Enlightenment got right - for example, religious freedom, understood as an inalienable human right to be acknowledged and protected by any just government - even as one rejects the ideas of which the Enlightenment made a hash (for example, the idea of God).
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