The pope began his lecture at the University of Regensburg by quoting from a 14th-century dialogue between the Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Paleologos, and a Persian scholar. In a passage on the concept of holy war, Benedict recited a passage of what he called “startling brusqueness,” in which Manuel questioned the teachings of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad.
“Show me just what Muhammad 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.
The pope neither explicitly endorsed nor denounced the emperor’s words, but rather used them as a preface to a discussion of faith and reason. The Vatican said the pope did not intend the remarks to be offensive to Muslims.
The outrage was, as it typically is with the ROP, so widespread and violent (including death threats) that the Pope issued a non-apology apology of sorts, in which he said that he was “upset” that his speech offended so many Muslims. Again, a brief recap:
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Rome (CNN) — Pope Benedict XVI has said he is “deeply sorry” for the reaction to his comments on Islam and said a quote he used from a medieval text about holy wars did not reflect his personal thoughts.
The pope’s speech in Germany last week — in which he appeared to endorse a Christian view, contested by most Muslims, that early Muslims spread their religion by violence — has sparked protests around the world.
“I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims,” the pope said in his regular Sunday blessing, the Angelus, at his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, southeast of Rome.
“This was a quote from a medieval text which does not express in any way my personal thoughts.”
The pope told pilgrims he hoped his remarks now and an explanation by the Vatican Saturday were enough to “placate spirits and give the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was an attempt to frankly and sincerely express my great reciprocal and mutual respect with the Muslim faith.”
But the head of the world’s 1.1 billion Roman Catholics failed to make a full apology or retraction called for by some Muslims and it was unclear if his words on Sunday would end the row.
The Pope has again risked provoking the wrath of the Islamic world, by criticising its treatment of Christians.
Benedict XVI attacked Muslim nations where Christians are either persecuted or given the status of second-class citizens under the Shariah Islamic law.
He also defended the rights of Muslims to convert to Christianity, an act which warrants the death penalty in many Islamic countries.
His comments came almost exactly a year after he provoked a wave of anger among Muslims by quoting a Byzantine emperor who linked Islam to violence.
Yesterday, near Rome, the 80-year-old pontiff made a speech in “defence of religious liberty”, which, he said “is a fundamental, irrepressible, inalienable and inviolable right”.
In a clear reference to Islam, he said: “The exercise of this freedom also includes the right to change religion, which should be guaranteed not only legally, but also in daily practice.”
Addressing the problem of Islamic extremism, he added: “Terrorism is a serious problem whose perpetrators often claim to act in God’s name and harbour an inexcusable contempt for human life.”
Expect the violence and death threats to commence shortly, if they haven’t already.
And speaking of Islamofascism, Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer blogs about the “Muslims of America” group which has set up jihadi training camps in rural America. For background on terrorists training in the US, go here.