Benedict says he was 'misunderstood' on Islam

20th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

20 September 2006, VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday his controversial speech in Germany, in which he quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor as referring to elements of the Muslim faith as "evil and inhuman," had been misunderstood.

20 September 2006

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday his controversial speech in Germany, in which he quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor as referring to elements of the Muslim faith as "evil and inhuman," had been misunderstood.

Addressing the faithful during his traditional mid-week general audience in Rome's St. Peter's Square, the pope said he did not mean to criticize Islam, but rather to promote "dialogue between religions and the modern world".

"I wanted to explain that religion and reason, not religion and violence, go together," he said.

The 79-year-old pontiff said he had a "profound respect for religions, and in particular towards Muslims, with whom we adore the only God and collaborate to defend rights, peace and freedom."

During a September 12 lecture at the University of Regensburg, Germany, the pope quoted a conversation that took place in Ankara in the year 1391 between Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on Christianity and 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," the pope quoted Manuel as saying.

The citation sparked widespread anger in the Muslim world, with Christian churches being targeted in Gaza and extremists burning effigies of the pope in Iraq and Pakistan. In an apparently related incident, an Italian nun was shot dead in Somalia.

The pope, who on Sunday said he was "deeply sorry" about the reactions his speech had caused, said Wednesday that Manuel's "incomprehensibly brusque" opinion did in no way reflect his own.

"Unfortunately, this quote lent itself to being misunderstood. It was clear to my audience that I did not mean to make those words my own and that their controversial content does not express my personal convictions," the pope said.

Vatican experts in Rome have talked of a "papal slip", noting that he should have made it clear earlier that he did not agree with the citation.

In a series of signs that Muslim anger was beginning to abate, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he "respected" the pope while Morocco instructed its ambassador to the Holy See to return to the Vatican after being recalled to Rabat by the government.

DPA

Subject: German news

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