Pope apologizes after fury over Islam remarks
International Herald Tribune
Reuters, The New York Times
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2006
Published: September 17, 2006
VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that he was “deeply sorry” over the anger caused by his remarks on Islam and said a quote that he had used from a medieval text about holy wars did not reflect his personal thoughts.
The pope had been under pressure to apologize personally after a speech that he made last week in Germany provoked fury in the Muslim world. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, said Saturday that Benedict “deeply regretted” that his speech had “sounded offensive to the sensibility of Muslim believers.”
The pope told pilgrims Sunday at Castel Gandolfo, his summer residence: “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.”
“These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought,” he said. “I hope this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with mutual respect.”
The comments, part of his regular Sunday Angelus blessing, were made at his first public appearance since making the comments Tuesday. The Italian media said security at Castel Gandolfo had been tightened.
It was not immediately clear whether the apology would go far enough to satisfy Muslim countries and religious groups angered by what they said had portrayed Islam as a religion tainted by violence.
In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin urged world religious leaders Sunday to show “responsibility and restraint,” an apparent reference to the Pope’s earlier remarks.
Putin said he hoped that “the leaders of the main world faiths will have sufficient strength and wisdom to avoid any extremes in relations between faiths.”
In the West Bank town of Nablus on Saturday, a day after street protests and the throwing of grenades at a church in the Gaza Strip, two churches were damaged by fire bombs. A group calling itself the Lions of Monotheism said the attacks were reactions to the pope’s remarks.
A Roman Catholic church in the town of Tulkarm also was damaged by a blaze that witnesses said they had seen a man setting.
In Iran, theological schools closed Sunday to protest the pope’s remarks, and the Etemad-e Melli newspaper said senior clerics had demanded an immediate apology. The English-language Tehran Times called the remarks “code words for the start of a new crusade.”
Morocco withdrew its ambassador to the Vatican on Saturday, calling the Pope’s remarks “offensive.” Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s main opposition force, said the statement by Cardinal Bertone had been insufficient. $@