PERHAPS the most important religious development in our time is the rise of Islamist fundamentalism. Benedict courted controversy over Islam with his 2006 speech, "Faith and Reason," in Regensburg, Germany. He quoted the 14th-century Byzantine Emperor Manual II Paleologus saying uncomplimentary things about Islam, quotes that led to death threats against the pontiff.
Largely lost in the controversy was the Pope's purpose in delivering the speech . . .
You might also call it a defense of Western civilization, or simply the West. In the modern West, however, we have turned skepticism and tolerance into such preeminent values that we are in danger of rendering ourselves incapable of defending the virtues of the Western tradition. Pope Benedict refused to turn a blind eye when radical Islam suppressed freedom, notably freedom of conscience.
In the Middle East, China and elsewhere, Christians face persecution, expulsion, imprisonment or even death for cleaving to their faith. Coptic Christians in Egypt have suffered greatly after Mubarak, and in Iraq some of the oldest Christian communities in the world cling to a tenuous existence. Benedict's pontificate deserves to be remembered for the attention and energy he gave to the plight of Christians living in unfree conditions for religious practice.
(Editorial, "The Papacy After Benedict," wsj.com, February 12, 2012 (emphasis added))