I appreciated in a particular way the Pope's references to God as 'logos' - which means both 'reason' and 'word'. I've had a personal affection for St. John the Evangelist and the opening of his gospel since I was a child. I remember in particular taking "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God" for my "confirmation quote" in eighth grade. I loved St. John for his faithfulness at the Passion and I found his words sensible and mysterious at the same time. The Pope offers them again as a reminder of the reasonableness of God and how this is essential to our Faith:
God does not become more divine when we push him away from us in a sheer, impenetrable voluntarism; rather, the truly divine God is the God who has revealed himself as “logos” and, as “logos,” has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf. Certainly, love "transcends" knowledge and is thereby capable of perceiving more than thought alone (cf. Eph 3:19); nonetheless it continues to be love of the God who is “logos.” Consequently, Christian worship is “spiritual” worship in harmony with the eternal Word and with our reason (cf. Rom 12:1).
This talk offers an important message to our times for many reasons. One that strikes me in particular is that many Christians, reacting against the evils of modern culture and not necessarily well-educated in their faith, can be tempted to think it more godly to ignore reason and the workings of the intellect when it comes to matters of the faith. This is really just an opposite extreme from what we recognize as a modern error. It presents a dichotomy in life in which truths from different subjects are compartmentalized and seem incompatible with each other. In the end, it severely limits the impact of Faith on our lives. Faith shouldn't be limited to things which are overtly religious; faith is supposed to illuminate our entire lives and our way of thinking. Faith doesn't suppress the intellect - it works with all of God's gifts to us and helps us to live our lives more fully and in union with God.
I'm not going to go into the political controversy this has caused. There's enough of that in the news and in the Catholic blogsophere already. To me it just provides further indication that people need to read this text for themselves, though commentary would certainly be helpful. Here are a few things that flesh out parts of the speech and might be helpful in better understanding it.
"The Pope's Speech: Lending Islam a Hand to Avoid a Downward Spiral" by Samir Khalil Samir, SJ
"Faith and Reason" at Clairity's Place Also see: a post on the Vatican's clarification
Also see: What DOES Benedict think of Islam?