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Pope Benedict Retracts: It was not my personal thoughts

Pope Benedict XVI expressed a personal apology yesterday after drawing fierce reaction from Muslims over his remarks on Islam and Prophet Muhammad during a recent visit to Germany.

He stressed that the passages he quoted from a medieval text during a speech at Regensburg University do not in any way express his personal thoughts.

Many Muslim leaders welcomed the pope’s statement accepting it as an apology. In Egypt the Muslim Brothers Organization called the pope's statement yesterday "a sufficient apology." But later said that it "does not rise to the level of a clear apology" and that the group is still demanding an "apology that will decisively end any confusion."

The deputy leader of the Organization, Mohammed Habib said he considers the pope's new statement a retraction, adding the group still hopes Pope Benedict to explain his views about Islam.

Director of Religious Affairs Ali Bardakoglu told German magazine Der Spiegel that he was satisfied with the Vatican’s statement, while Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul assured that Turkey would host the Pope as planned.

Religious leaders should not be afraid to admit their mistakes when necessary, Bardakoglu said, adding “The Pope expressed his respect for Islam and said he did not want to offend Muslims. This to me is a civilized manner. The fact that he expressed his regret signals he will work for the maintenance of world peace. We, religious leaders, should admit our mistakes when necessary and be an example for other people. I hope the Pope will understand and consider our criticisms,” Bardakoglu explained.

When asked, “Will you discuss this issue during the pope’s Turkey visit?” Bardakoglu briefly commented saying “Turkey is a secularist country. The Pope’s invitation did not come from me. He was invited by the president. Whether we will come together or not, depends on the circumstances of the visit. I am always open to discussions.”

“I feel 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”, Pope Benedict said at the traditional Angelus prayer yesterday from his Castel Gandolfo summer residence near Rome.

Referring to the quotations from Roman Emperor II Manuel Paleologos, “These were in fact a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought,” he said.

The Vatican issued a statement to clarify my remarks, he reminded. “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.”

Pope Benedict XVI also explained that he would dwell on his German trip in detail in the speech that he is due to deliver on Wednesday.

In the meantime, German Internal Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said that the Pope criticized Christianity more than Islam during his Germany visit and representatives of other religions should do this as well.

Indonesian leader Susilo Yudhoyono termed Pope Benedict’s remarks as “irrational and inappropriate.”

Edwina Baniqued


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