Breaking News Stories
These are news stories breaking after the publishing of this Word
– Twenty-First Century Crusades?
8: The Vatican demonstrating intolerance for the Muslims in Europe. Possibility
of the Pope speaking negatively toward the Muslim faith, its beliefs and the
Qur’an. He could conceivably call for a new "crusade" against Islam.
Pope says anti-Islam quotes not his own
By Philip Pullella and Stephen Brown
VATICAN CITY- Pope Benedict said on Wednesday that his use of medieval
quotes portraying a violent Islam did not reflect his views and were
misunderstood, but he did not give the clear apology still demanded by
The leader of the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics, whose speech last
week has provoked al Qaeda groups to declare war on the Church, Iraqis
to burn the Pope's effigy and Turks to petition for his arrest, said he
had not meant to cause offence.
Speaking amid tighter security at his weekly general audience in St
Peter's Square, the Pope repeated the thrust of remarks made on Sunday
that his words had been misunderstood.
He expressed his "profound respect" for Muslims and encouraged more
dialogue among religions and cultures.
But Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, in an early reaction, said the Pope's
latest explanation was "definitely not an apology."
"The Pope says it does not express his views. So what are his views?"
said Mohammed Habib, deputy head of the influential group. "He must say
these views (in the quotes) are incorrect."
Even sympathetic observers say the Pope was clumsy to quote 14th century
Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus saying that everything the
Prophet Mohammad brought was evil, "such as his command to spread by the
sword the faith he preached."
But the Pope, a former theology professor, invited his listeners to
re-read his speech.
"For the careful reader of my text it is clear that I in no way wanted
to make mine the negative words pronounced by the medieval emperor and
their polemical content does not reflect my personal conviction," he
He added: "My intention was very different. I wanted to explain that
religion and violence do not go together but religion and reason do."
The Pope said he hoped the furor would eventually help encourage
"positive and even self-critical dialogue, both among religions as well
as between modern reason and the Christian faith."
He expressed his "profound respect for the great religions, particularly
for Muslims, who worship the one God and with whom we are committed to
defending and promoting together social justice, moral values, peace and
freedom for all humanity."
A Vatican source said the Pope's secretary of state would invite
ambassadors from Islamic countries accredited to the Holy See to a
meeting this week or early next week.
Asked if the purpose of the meeting was to explain the Pope's remarks,
the source said: "There is not much more to explain now that the Pope
has spoken about it twice. This is a gesture of friendship."
In a sign of increased concern about the Pope's safety because of the
sometimes violent response to his speech -- which has included seven
Christian churches being attacked in the West Bank -- security was
tighter at the Vatican on Wednesday.
The Prefect of Rome, Achille Serra, said there was "no specific threat
but it would be naive not to take the situation into account," adding
that security had been "reinforced." Court sources said public
prosecutors were now investigating threats against the Pope and Italy
carried on hard-line Muslim websites.
But, as is customary, the Pope still was driven among the crowd standing
on the back of an open jeep as it passed among tens of thousands of
people in the square.
Western leaders, including President George W. Bush, as well as Church
leaders and some Muslims, are struggling to calm the crisis. Spanish
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said he was "completely
convinced the Pope never wanted to cause an argument or a confrontation,
or criticize the Islamic religion."
The Spanish Socialist called for "calm and understanding."
One of the few signs that the crisis may have peaked came from Iran's
hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on a visit to the United
Nations in New York.
"I think that he actually takes back his statement and there is no
problem," Ahmadinejad told NBC television. "People in important
positions should be careful about what they say. What he said may give
an excuse to another group to start a war."