In early January Hugh Hewitt did an interview with Father Jospeh Fessio that deserves more attention that it has received. In the interview candid comments from Pope Benedict XVI (former Cardinal Ratzinger) on Islam were related. The gist of the Pope's comments are below

“JF: Well, the thesis that was proposed by this scholar was that Islam can enter into the modern world if the Koran is reinterpreted by taking the specific legislation, and going back to the principles, and then adapting it to our times, especially with the dignity that we ascribe to women, which has come through Christianity, of course. And immediately, the Holy Father, in his beautiful calm but clear way, said well, there's a fundamental problem with that, because he said in the Islamic tradition, God has given His word to Mohammed, but it's an eternal word. It's not Mohammed's word. It's there for eternity the way it is. There's no possibility of adapting it or interpreting it, whereas in Christianity, and Judaism, the dynamism's completely different, that God has worked through His creatures. And so, it is not just the word of God, it's the word of Isaiah, not just the word of God, but the word of Mark. He's used His human creatures, and inspired them to speak His word to the world, and therefore by establishing a Church in which he gives authority to His followers to carry on the tradition and interpret it, there's an inner logic to the Christian Bible, which permits it and requires it to be adapted and applied to new situations. I was...I mean, Hugh, I wish I could say it as clearly and as beautifully as he did, but that's why he's Pope and I'm not, okay? That's one of the reasons. One of others, but his seeing that distinction when the Koran, which is seen as something dropped out of Heaven, which cannot be adapted or applied, even, and the Bible, which is a word of God that comes through a human community, it was stunning.
HH: And so, is it fair to describe him as a pessimist about the prospect of modernity truly engaging Islam in the way modernity has engaged Christianity?
JF: Well, the other way around.
HH: Yes. I meant that.
JF: Yeah, that Christianity can engage modernity just like it did...the Jews did Egypt, or Christians did to Greece, because we can take what's good there, and we can elevate it through the revelation of Christ in the Bible. But Islam is stuck. It's stuck with a text that cannot be adapted, or even be interpreted properly.
HH: And so the Pope is a pessimist about that changing, because it would require a radical reinterpretation of what the Koran is?
JF: Yeah, which is it's impossible, because it's against the very nature of the Koran, as it's understood by Muslims

(An Okie Gardener again) Some might say that the Muslim understanding of the Quran is just like that of Christian fundamentalists of the Bible. I do think the Muslim view of the inspiration is similar to that of fundamentalist Christians. But there are differences: for example, only the Arabic Quran is really the Quran. To hear/read the actual Quran one must learn Arabic and hear/read it in Arabic. This indicates a greater regard for the actual words than what is found in Christian fundamentalism.

But, more importantly, most Western Christians including fundamentalists have been able to come to terms with the pluralism of modernity because the setting of the New Testament is a pluralistic culture. The Book of Acts and the Epistles portray a minority group engaging those in the society around them by means of conversation, preaching, and witness. The “conquest” in the Book of Acts is not at all like the conquest described in the Book of Joshua. And, the New Testament contains no direct or explicit plans and directives about creating a Christian society (there is nothing comparable to Leviticus from Paul). In the Quran, by contrast, the directive is to turn the Realm of War into the Realm of Submission. Islam from its beginnings has sought to spread its faith through military conquest. There is no real room for pluralism or tolerance.

I think the pope probably is correct. And that means that we are in the midst of another hot spell in the nearly 1400-year long war between Islam and the West with no end in sight.

Interesting that Pope John Paul II saw clearly the dangers from communism and secularism, confronting both, and becoming one of the leaders whose appearance on the world stage together seems providential (along with Reagan, Thatcher, Gorbachev). But, whereas John Paul II tended to see Islam as a potential ally against secularism, Benedict XVI sees clearly the dangers posed by Islam. We'll see if this is providential as well.