VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) – Pope Benedict XVI for the second time in four days again his expressed regret at the misinterpretation and misunderstanding of his remarks on Islam and offered words of “deep respect” to the faith of Muslims.
Speaking at the Sept. 20 general audience in St. Peter’s Square before more than 40,000 people, the pope noted his recent trip to Bavaria, focusing his attention on address he delivered at the University of Regensburg and the widespread condemnation it provoked throughout the Muslim world.
In his Sept. 12 university address, Benedict, in rejecting any religious motivation for violence, quoted the 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus’ characterization of some teachings of Islam’s founder, the Prophet Muhammad, including about jihad or holy war. "He said, I quote,” said the pope of the emperor, “‘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.’”
“This quotation, unfortunately, has lent itself to misunderstanding,” the pope said at the Sept. 20 audience, calling the words he quoted “incomprehensibly brusque.”
“In no way did I wish to make my own the negative words pronounced by the medieval emperor, and that their polemical content does not express by personal convictions,” Pope Benedict said.
“My intention was quite otherwise,” he said. “I wished to explain that not religion and violence, but religion and reason, go together.”
"The theme of my talk was, then, the relationship between faith and reason," he added. "I wished to call for a dialogue of the Christian faith with the modern world and for dialogue between all cultures and religions.”
The pope stressed that during the papal pilgrimage to Germany he “underlined how it important it is to respect what is sacred for others – what emerged was my deep respect for all the great religions, and in particular for Muslims who ‘worship the one God,’ and with whom we are committed to promoting ‘peace, liberty, social justice and moral values for the benefit of all humanity.’”
He expressed the hope that his University of Regensburg address “may constitute an impulse and encouragement towards positive, even self-critical, dialogue both among religions and between modern reason and Christian faith.”
Pope Benedict said Sept. 17 that he was “deeply sorry” about the angry reaction to his speech on Islam that offended Muslims throughout the world, following up on a statement the day before that offered his “sincerely regrets.”
“These (words) were in fact a quotation from a Medieval text which do not in any way express my personal thought,” Benedict told pilgrims at his summer palace outside Rome.
“At this time I wish also to add that 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 Sunday.
The new Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said in a Sept. 16 statement that Benedict’s position is “unequivocally” in line with Vatican teaching that the church respects Islam as one of the great religions that worships the one living God and is “equally unequivocal” in “favor of interreligious and intercultural dialogue.”
“The holy father,” Cardinal Bertone said one day after his installation in his new post, “sincerely regrets that certain passages of his address could have sounded offensive to the sensitivities of the Muslim faithful, and should have been interpreted in a manner that in no way corresponds to his intentions.”
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The following is the Vatican text of Pope Benedict XVI's remarks in English at his weekly general audience Sept. 20:
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today I wish to share some recollections of my pastoral visit to Bavaria. More than a journey to my roots, it was an opportunity to look forward with hope. Under the motto "Those Who Believe Are Never Alone," I invited all to reflect on the baptized person's membership in the church where, never alone, one is in constant communion with God and others.
In Munich's central square, I implored the Virgin's blessing upon the whole world. The following day I spoke of a certain difficulty in hearing God in a secular world which needs so much the Gospel's message of hope. At Altotting we reflected on Mary's generosity in accepting God's will, recalling how she guides us toward Jesus.
Returning to the theme of the visit, I noted in Regensburg that the Father wishes to gather all humanity into one family, the church. Here, at the university where for many years I had taught, I spoke on the relationship between faith and reason.
I included a quotation on the relationship between religion and violence. This quotation, unfortunately, was misunderstood. In no way did I wish to make my own the words of the medieval emperor. I wished to explain that not religion and violence but religion and reason go together.
I hope that my profound respect for world religions and for Muslims, who "worship the one God" and with whom we "promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values for the benefit of all humanity" ("Nostra Aetate," 3), is clear. Let us continue the dialogue both between religions and between modern reason and the Christian faith.
I warmly welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims present today. In particular, I greet the members of the Society of Missionaries of Africa and the pilgrims from Samoa. Upon you all, I invoke God's abundant blessings.
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.