Magazine article The Christian Century

Pope Apologizes for Offending Muslims

Magazine article The Christian Century

Pope Apologizes for Offending Muslims

Article excerpt

Under pressure for days to apologize for his remarks about Islam, Pope Benedict XVI said in a public appearance September 17 that he was "deeply sorry" that his use of a 14th-century quotation critical of the prophet Muhammad had provoked outrage in the Muslim world.

Benedict said his reference to words of a Byzantine ruler, who spoke of "evil and inhuman" teachings of Islam's revered prophet, in "no way" reflected his own thinking. The pope said his remarks on Islam at Germany's University of Regensberg September 12 were meant as "an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect."

The controversial quotation, taken from Manuel II Paleogus, was that Muhammad had introduced "things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

Benedict is scheduled to travel to Turkey in late November. That country's top Islamic cleric, Ali Bardakoglu, had described Benedict's remarks as "extraordinarily worrying, saddening and unfortunate" but later said he welcomed the pope's apology.

Turkey's foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, signaled that the pope's visit was still scheduled, despite the reaction in many parts of the Muslim world. Likewise, Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomeos I told a group of French religious affairs journalists in his Istanbul offices that he was confident that Turkey would host the Roman Catholic pontiff even if "fanatical groups hold demonstrations."

Political observers say that Turkey would stand to lose ground in its effort to join the European Union if it did not welcome the pope. …

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