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Regensburg lecture/Subsequent Vatican statements

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Part of the series on the
Regensburg lecture
Pope Benedictus XVI january,20 2006 (17)
'Lecture by
Pope Benedict XVI'
Pope Benedict XVI's lecture
Initial reactions
Subsequent Vatican statements
Open letters from top Muslim clerics
Protests, attacks and threats
Controversial Statements about Qur'an Chapter 2
Assessment of the lecture's purpose
Article discussion

Subsequent Vatican statements

Official Vatican declaration

On 16 September 2006, Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of State of the Holy See, released a declaration explaining that the "position of the Pope concerning Islam is unequivocally that expressed by the conciliar document Nostra Aetate" and that "the Pope's option in favour of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue is equally unequivocal."[1]

As for the opinion of the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus which he quoted during his Regensburg talk, the Holy Father did not mean, nor does he mean, to make that opinion his own in any way. He simply used it as a means to undertake — in an academic context, and as is evident from a complete and attentive reading of the text — certain reflections on the theme of the relationship between religion and violence in general, and to conclude with a clear and radical rejection of the religious motivation for violence, from whatever side it may come. [The Pope] 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.[2][3](emphasis in the original)

Response to official declaration

For many Muslim leaders, the declaration on 16 September was insufficient to rectify the situation. A representative for the Muslim Brotherhood rejected the Vatican statement, noting "Has he presented a personal apology for statements by which he clearly is convinced? No."[4] Grand Mufti Abdul-Azeez ibn Abdullaah Aal ash-Shaikh, Saudi Arabia's highest religious authority, called the pope's declaration "lies", adding that they "show that reconciliation between religions is impossible."[5] On the other hand, the Muslim Council of Britain had a more favourable view of the declaration, issuing their own statement on 16 September that the Pope's expression of "sincere regret" was "a good first step."[6]

Pope's Angelus

On 17 September, before his regular weekly Sunday Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict XVI stated the following:

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. These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought. Yesterday, the Cardinal Secretary of State published a statement in this regard in which he explained the true meaning of my words. I hope that 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 great mutual respect.[7]

Reactions to Angelus

The Angelus speech initially received a mixed yet predominantly negative response.[8] Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque, Cairo, a Sunni institution, stated "We have no objection if the Pope holds another speech and declares publicly that what the Byzantine emperor had said was wrong. At the same time, the Pope has to apologize frankly and justify what he said," Mohammed Habib, deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's main Islamic opposition group originally, not long after the Pope's Sunday statements, called them a sufficient apology. However, later in the day, he retracted that statement, saying, "The Pope's comments that downplayed his earlier remarks are not enough. We will not accept anything less than an apology,"[9] Mohammed Habib also said: "It does not rise to the level of a clear apology and, based on this, we're calling on the Pope of the Vatican to issue a clear apology that will decisively end any confusion.[10]

This sentiment was shared by the governments of Malaysia ("inadequate to calm the anger"),[11] and Jordan ("a step forward", but "not sufficient"),[12] by Turkish State Minister Mehmet Aydın ("you either have to say this 'I'm sorry' in a proper way or not say it at all. Are you sorry for saying such a thing or because of its consequences?") and scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who called for a "peaceful international day of rage" on his popular TV show on Al Jazeera: "[The Pope's latest statements] were no apology. They were an accusation against Muslims that they didn't understand his words."[13]

Later comments were more favourable of the Pope.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said: "We respect the Pope and all those interested in peace and justice,"[14] and said he accepted the Vatican view that the pontiff’s words had been "misinterpreted" and "taken out of context".[15]

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said: "I suppose we could accept this. We hope that there would be no other statements that would anger Muslims."[16]

Ali Bardakoğlu, the head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate said that Benedict’s "expression of sadness is a sign that he would work for world peace."[17]

Australian Muslim leader Ameer Ali said Australian Muslims must "accept the Pope's apology" over remarks that offended Islam and "move on".[18] Filipino Muslims expressed support for Pope Benedict's apology and blamed certain media outlets for increasing the tensions between Muslims and Catholics.[19]

Diplomatic initiative

On 25 September 2006, Pope Benedict XVI held an audience with Muslim diplomats, ambassadors of Muslim countries and members of the Consulta Islamica, the Italian government appointed consultative body on Islamic affairs. The meeting was an effort to mend relations with the Muslim community. Pope Benedict's spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the meeting at Castel Gandolfo, the Pope's summer residence, was "certainly a sign that dialogue is returning to normal after moments of … misunderstanding."[20]

During the session, Pope Benedict XVI reiterated his conviction that the dialogue between Muslims and Christians is "a vital necessity" for the good of a world marked by relativism, one that "excludes the transcendence and universality of reason."[21] At this meeting, Pope Benedict expressed "all the esteem and the profound respect that (he has) for Muslim believers."[22] Among the ambassadors invited were those from Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Morocco, as well as many other nations and Islamic groups.[23]

Change of text

Pope Benedict has taken another step to placate anger in the Islamic world over his remarks on holy war, making additions to his original text by re-affirming that a quotation from a 14th century Byzantine emperor was not his personal opinion. The original text said the emperor's remark was made "somewhat brusquely." The new version says that it was made with "a brusqueness that we find unacceptable." Pope Benedict added in a footnote:

In the Muslim world, this quotation has unfortunately been taken as an expression of my personal position, thus arousing understandable indignation. I hope that the reader of my text can see immediately that this sentence does not express my personal view of the Quran, for which I have the respect due to the holy book of a great religion.[24]
He said he cited the text as part of an examination of the "relationship between faith and reason."[25]

  1. "Traduzione In Lingua Inglesse", Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 16 September 2006
  2. "Pope apologises to Muslims", Reuters, 16 September 2006
  3. "Pope 'sincerely regrets' he offended Muslims", Associated Press, 16 September 2006
  4. "Pope statement not enough — Muslim Brotherhood", Reuters, 16 September 2006
  5. "«Hässliche, unglückliche Äußerungen»: Erdogan fordert Entschuldigung des Papstes", Netzeitung, 17 September 2006 (German)
  6. "Pope praised for making apology", BBC, 16 September 2006
  7. "Sunday Angelus", Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 17 September 2006
  8. "Mixed response to new Pope apology". The Guardian. 2006-09-18.,,-6087503,00.html. 
  9. "Pope 'deeply sorry' for Muslim fury". CNN. 2006-09-17. 
  10. "Pope apology 'not good enough'". Herald Sun. 2006-09-17.,21985,20430473-5005961,00.html. 
  11. "Iranian Leader Urges More Papal Protests". AP. 2006-09-18. 
  12. "Pope has joined US crusade, says Iran". The Guardian. 2006-09-19.,,1875811,00.html. 
  13. "Pope's Apology Rejected by Some, Accepted by Others". Der Spiegel. 2006-09-18.,1518,437636,00.html. 
  14. "Ahmadinejad 'respects' Pope". Gulf News. 2006-09-19. 
  15. "The Pope is in danger, warns failed assassin of John Paul II". The Times. 2006-09-19.,,3-2365442,00.html. 
  16. "Iran, Malaysia Satisfied with Pope's Expression of Regret". Zaman. 2006-09-20. 
  17. "THE POPE'S ACT OF CONTRITION". Amherst Times. 2006-09-20. 
  18. "Muslims 'must accept Pope apology'". The Age. 2006-09-19. 
  19. "Benedict to meet Muslim ambassadors today"
  20. Pope, Muslims Meet in Bid to Defuse Anger
  21. ASIANEWS Pope: dialogue between Muslims and Christians "a vital necessity"
  22. "Address to the Ambassadors of Countries with a Muslim majority and Muslim communities in Italy" by Pope Benedict XVI, 25 September 2006
  23. Pope: 'Total and profound respect for Muslims', CNN, 25 September 2006
  24. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named TranslatedLecture
  25. Pope makes additions to text on Islam

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