He didn't go along with the love the ROPer side of the Vatican.
"In his 2006 speech, simply titled "Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections," Benedict characteristically took up a knotty concept -- the interplay of faith and reason. He wanted to show how reason untethered from faith leads to fanaticism and violence.
To illustrate that case, Benedict dug up an obscure 14th-century dialogue between a long-forgotten Byzantine Christian emperor, Manuel II Paleologus, and a Persian scholar about the concept of violence in Islam.
"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," Benedict quoted the emperor as saying to his Islamic interlocutor.
In Islamic teaching, Benedict said, "God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality."
Given the tinderbox that was the Muslim world then, as now, it was no surprise that Benedict's citation of Islam as an example of a religion gone wild touched off the firestorm.
Not only were moderate Muslims offended, but extremists attacked churches in the West Bank, killed an Italian nun in Somalia, and beheaded a priest in Iraq. Benedict's allies saw those episodes as proving the pope's point, and they cheered his willingness to "get tough" with Islam. "Benedict the Brave," the Wall Street Journal called him.
But many in the West, and in Benedict's own church, cringed at what they saw as his impolitic -- to say the least -- remarks and criticized his analysis of Islam.
Fast forward eight years and today, the old pope's allies say events have proved them -- and Benedict, and Emperor Manuel II Paleologus -- right."