The Times (yesterday) – Leading article: A Catholic Outlook The Vatican outlines three overdue and welcome initiatives

The initiatives could set a new framework for Catholic debate in three areas of political and spiritual importance, and where the Pope’s own position in the recent past has been much misunderstood: relations with Islam, ecumenism and the renewed clash between science and religion.

For the Vatican, the decision to erect a statue of Galileo close to the apartment where he was incarcerated 400 years ago awaiting trial for heresy is the most straightforward. The Pope clearly wants to close a controversy that was wholly unnecessary, has taken a toll on relations between science and faith and forced the pontiff himself to call off a visit to a university in Rome last month because of protests at suspicions that he had earlier defended the astronomer’s trial as fair. But the timing is intended to show, at a time of renewed attacks on religion in general by celebrated scientists, that the two are not incompatible and that faith poses no challenge to rationality.

I thought that was interesting. And, unlike the Martin Luther and dialogue-with-Islam things, one I hadn’t heard about.

Benedict XVI could turn what is a perhaps harsh reputation based on his role as the “enforcer” to his predecessor if he makes bold and unexpected moves in a different direction. If his fresh analysis on Luther, in particular, marks a papacy intent on fostering Christian harmony and unity, it is magnanimous and historic.

Uh huh. I think some of us knew that already.