This is something I needed to hear because respecting other religions - not just Islam but cults like Scientology and other irrational belief systems - is not something I'm good at. I'd always figured that disrespect of a religion was fine, while not the disrespecting the holders of those beliefs. That is, to separate the dignity of the person from the indignity of their belief.
Yet the Pope says that
It is necessary and urgent that religions and their symbols be respected, and that the faithful not be subjected to provocations injuring their outlook and religious feelings.Obviously this comes in context of the clash between Islam and the West, but the word choice of the Pope was interesting and challenging. I sometimes think with pity how the ancient Hebrews had to make do without the Incarnation and with their incomplete Revelation but then I realize that - duh! - I "look thru the glass darkly" and not just with respect to those in Heaven, where the gulf is astonishing, but with respect to those who are farther along the path of righteousness here on earth. I know this intellectually but it sinks in with difficulty because I assume individuals of another creed "should know better", just as saints could easily think that I ought see more clearly and could if I wanted.
I posted the following on Steven Riddle's blog, an excerpt from one of the documents of Vatican II, but it ought hang next to my computer:
Respect and love ought to be extended also to those who think or act differently than we do in social, political and even religious matters. In fact, the more deeply we come to understand their ways of thinking through such courtesy and love, the more easily will we be able to enter into dialogue with them.
This love and good will, to be sure, must in no way render us indifferent to truth and goodness. Indeed love itself impels the disciples of Christ to speak the saving truth to all men. But it is necessary to distinguish between error, which always merits repudiation, and the person in error, who never loses the dignity of being a person even when he is flawed by false or inadequate religious notions. God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts; for that reason He forbids us to make judgments about the internal guilt of anyone.
Since all men possess a rational soul and are created in God's likeness, since they have the same nature and origin, have been redeemed by Christ and enjoy the same divine calling and destiny, the basic equality of all must receive increasingly greater recognition.