B16's visit to the Blue Mosque in
Istanbul, Constantinople, New Rome, Augusta Antonina, Byzantium (oh, heck, SEE HERE) raised a lot of eyebrows. More specifically, the fact that the pope prayed in the mosque did.
I was surprised when press reports emerged--initially reports that were unclear as to whether he'd actually prayed or just meditated quietly for a moment. Given Pre-16's disapproval of the interreligious meetings at Assisi and his authorship of Dominus Iesus, it wasn't something that I predicted.
But it wasn't something that I thought totally out of character for him. He has articulated principles in the past that would allow him to do something like this, and I could see him saying to himself, "Like Jews and Christians, Muslims do worship God, and in view of the grave world crisis we are presently in and my own obligation as the Vicar of Christ not to inflame it, I should go as far as I possibly can to settle the situation down."
This was a way that was possible given the principles he has articulated before, and so he did it.
Not everyone, though, is familiar with what Pre-16 wrote on this subject, and I was glad to see that John Allen provied a nice column on how to view the event in light of what B16 said before he was B16--as well as the fact that the pope felt is was possible for him to do this without loading it up with theological explanations and qualifiers that would have killed the effect.
Why did he feel that he could handle the matter in that way?