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Pope Says Comments on Islam Do Not Reflect His Personal Views


Pope Benedict XVI tried on Sunday to calm Muslim anger at his recent remarks on Islam, saying he "deeply regrets" the reaction. He said the Medieval quotes he used on holy war did not reflect his personal views.

The pope appeared at the balcony of his summer palace in Castelgandolfo to address pilgrims, and give his customary Sunday blessing.

He said he was deeply sorry about the reactions to his speech in Germany, in which he spoke about Islam in remarks that have so angered Muslims.

Pope Benedict said that the medieval text, which he quoted in a speech to academics in Germany did not express in any way his personal opinion. He said the speech in which he spoke about Islam was an invitation to respectful dialogue.

The pope also told pilgrims he would talk about his pastoral visit to Germany again on Wednesday during the general audience. Benedict said he hoped his words would be enough to appease hearts and clarify the true meaning of his speech.

The pope and Vatican officials have been doing everything in their power to explain that the pope did not intend to offend Muslim sensibilities.

The controversy erupted Tuesday, following a speech to academics at the university of Regensburg.

Pope Benedict quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor, who said, "show me just what Mohammad 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."

The pope also spoke of jihad and holy war, saying violence was not compatible with the nature of God.

Muslim anger has led to violence, with churches being attacked in the Middle East. Security had to be stepped up around the Vatican and the papal summer palace.

The tension with Muslims comes as the pope is planning a visit to Turkey at the end of November.

The Vatican's Number Two said Sunday, he hopes the pope would still be able to make the trip. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said that, for the moment, there are no reasons why the pope should not go. Benedict's trip to Turkey would be his first trip to a Muslim nation.

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