|Sr. Leonelia Sgorbati 1940-2006|
dt isn't the only leader whose careless words have incited violence.
Pope Benedict XVI was endangering lives long before 45 came onto the scene.
In a speech at the University of Regensburg, Germany, in September 2006, this pope found it necessary to illustrate a lecture on faith and reason with a quotation from Byzantine emperor Michael II Paleologus criticizing Islam.
The quote that caused the furor followed: “He turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words: ‘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,'” the pope said, emphasizing that he was quoting the emperor.
Because Michael II was living in the 14th century, the Crusades were still fresh in everyone's minds. Anti-Muslim feeling was widespread in Europe.
But Benedict XVI is living in the 21st century. Words spoken in Germany echo around the world, even to Kenya and Somalia.
Sister Leonelia Sgorbati and the Muslim bodyguard she was traveling with were killed a few days later as protests to the speech mounted.
Well, this week Pope Francis officially declared Sr. Leonelia to be a martyr. Thus she passed one of the milestones on the way to gaining full sainthood.
Clearly she was a saint, but getting official recognition as a saint is another matter. It can take years.
Her driver, Mohamed Osman Mahamud, was a saint too, but the Roman Catholic Church is not likely to recognize him as such any time soon.
Another not-to-be declared martyr this year is Heather Heyer, the woman killed by a car mowing down demonstrators in Charlottesville on August 13.
In her case, it was the US president whose inflammatory rhetoric egged on her killer.