The head of the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics stopped short of the full apology or retraction demanded by some Muslims for a speech they say portrayed Islam astainted by violence.
It was unclear whether his words would end the backlash.
The deputy leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Habib, initially said it was "a sufficient apology", but later 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."
Before the Pope spoke, there had already been a protest on Sunday in Iran and attacks on churches in the West Bank. In Somalia an Italian nun was killed in an attack one Islamist source said may be linked to the crisis.
"... 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," he told pilgrims at his Castelgandolfo summer residence.
"These in fact were a quotation from a mediaeval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought," the Pope said at his weekly Angelus prayer.
"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 German-born Pope was interrupted by applause from the pilgrims at Castelgandolfo, in the hills outside Rome.
But he faces the worst crisis since, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he was elected Pope in April last year. His comments followed a Vatican statement on Saturday attempting to clarify the meaning of the academic speech made in Germany on Tuesday.
The heads of Muslim countries have expressed dismay at what they see as offensive comments and religious leaders have called it the start of a new Christian crusade against Islam.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi hoped the death of a nun working at a Mogadishu children's hospital was "an isolated event".
"We are worried about the consequences of this wave of hatred and hope it doesn't have grave consequences for the church around the world," he told Ansa news agency.
"...ON HIS KNEES..."
In the speech, the Pope, a former theology professor and enforcer of Vatican dogma, referred to criticism of the Prophet Mohammad by 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus.
The emperor said everything the Prophet Mohammad brought was evil "such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached".
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and politicians in Italy rushed to Benedict's defence, saying he had been misunderstood and had really being making an appeal for dialogue.
But angry Muslim leaders flung what they saw as allegations of violence back at the West, referring to the mediaeval crusades against Islam and to the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have fanned the flames of Muslim resentment.
In Iran about 500 theological school students protested in the holy city of Qom on Sunday and influential cleric Ahmad Khatami warned that if the Pope did not apologise, "Muslims' outcry will continue until he fully regrets his remarks".
"The Pope should fall on his knees in front of a senior Muslim cleric and try to understand Islam," Khatami said.
In a sign that some Muslims have been mollified, the head of Turkey's religious affairs directorate welcomed the statement from the Vatican on Saturday. Ali Bardakoglu had previously called the Pope's comments "extremely regrettable".
The uproar had raised questions about whether a papal visit to Turkey in November could go ahead, but the Turkish government, while calling his remarks "ugly", said there were no plans to call it off.
The church has officially encouraged dialogue with Islam and other non-Christian faiths since the Second Vatican Council that ended in 1965. Benedict has sought dialogue with Islam -- but he also stresses Europe's Christian roots and, before elected, said he opposed mainly Muslim Turkey joining the European Union.
He may have come closer than any
modern-day pope to saying sorry in
public for something he has said. His predecessor John Paul II made
public apologies for the church's historic errors, such as the
Inquisition and its failings in World War Two.
SEPTEMBER 6th 2010
Since I wrote the above comment to the posted Reuters report 4 years ago, Pope Benedict has proved he is poorly advised or just not up to the mark. Now he is coming on a 'State Visit' to the UK to which we are supposed to contribute financially. As far as security is concerned, if it requires overtime and the purchase of special technology I suppose we have little choice. We can hardly refuse him entry. But as a baptised, confirmed Christian I am not surprised some people object.
indeed a new anti-Catholicism on the rise and for very good reason.
Most people in this country thought the Catholic threat had been dealt with once and for all. The Catholic church has long been considered not only harmless but by many people a force for good. Only the obsessed Richard Dawkins and his followers could possibly see it as a threat, and hardly any Catholics in any position beyond the Church in the UK were taking the Pope seriously anyway. They realised he had a job to do, that he usually did it very badly as had many if his predecessors, but hey, what do you expect? The Catholic Church is like a large tanker with a captain elected every so often by a largely blindfolded crew. Let it cruise on till it runs aground harmlessly. Catholic politicians no longer represent a threat either. Paedophile priests and cardinals are a threat of another kind; but there is more than that to the objectors case
The current Pope, as clueless as some of his predecessors, is not content to concentrate on damage limitation or keeping a comfortable house for those who need to abandon thought for faith (it seems the former gives them grief or a headache). He wants to make something of it, and come visiting the UK on a membership drive. I'm sorry, but there is no way we should help him financially in this. This is not a State Visit. It is a propaganda exercise. The current wreckage of modern Christianity lies at the door of the Vatican as much as anywhere. I am sure it will be rebuilt and flourish but only if we can get rid of the silly idea that best practice and enlightenment emerges from monoculture. We must get real. Unity is not the basis of the universe, of evolution, or of anything that has ever transcended the entropic decay that inevitably awaits even transient success in any growing organism.
To call anti-Catholicism 'prejudice' is correct if we refer to discrimination against Catholics on anything except religious grounds in religious matters. To discriminate on religious grounds in religious matters is of course right, correct, and the duty of all who are charged with that responsibility, above all, the head of the Church of England. The Act of Settlement must be absolutely inviolate unless overthrown by a national referendum in which voting should be compulsory. It is anti-Catholic for very good reasons. These reasons should not upset any individual Catholic unless he or she believes, along with Moslem fundamentalists (and the Pope?), that they alone have the truth and the backing of God/Allah and therefore that they should be able to run the country if they can scare enough people into supporting them. Please remember the principle of the Church of England is to abolish Popery here and allow many Christian denominations to flourish, in which each can find a home. That includes confused Catholics. They would not expect the College of Cardinals to elect a Protestant as Pope, after all!
SEPTEMBER 13th 2010
Yesterday, I was told, historian David Starkey got quite worked up and referred to the Pope (in a discussion on Radio 4) as just a man in a silly frock (or was it a silly man in a frock), I forget. As a historian, Starkey should know better. The Pope is an authority figure for a reason, the reason is history, the dress is tradition and part of the history and goes with the job, and Ratzinger is a serious man, not a silly one, who has landed himself in a rather hot seat. I referred to him earlier as clueless but I was talking about his disconnection with some obvious realities which he may find trivial but in doing so invite trouble.
could, on the other hand, mark him as a
man who is well aware of the paradoxical position his dogma and
doctrine can lead to. There is, after all, no need to agonise about
reconciling faith with reason and evidence unless you can't get it to
'add up'.. Newman agonised, and came to a similar conclusion as
Ratzinger, that in matters beyond human understanding it is right to
follow one's conscience, but that conscience should be guided by such
humility as to prevent its subjective reasoning to overthrow the
collective councils of the Catholic Church. The submission position,
one might call it.
have to agree that if I was Pope, or had I been Newman, I might have
done and be doing my share of agonising. Silly or not there is no way
the Pope can remove his frock. It is a little late for that, just as it
is a little late to say loud and clear that words, customs and
interpretations of 2000 years ago have to be seen in the light of what
we have learned since then. It would be better he keep the frock for
the moment and continue his work of cleaning up and modernising his
branch of the church. It can keep its traditions. Those for whom
those traditions and the particular fellowship of the Catholic Church
are important should not be let down. The one thing he should give up
on is any pretence that he and his Church represent an exclusive and
full understanding of the meaning of the life and work of Jesus of
Arriving in Scotland (I won't press the tactical reasons for this, though they are several and amusing. concerning as they do the Scots, our Royal Family, recent poltiical developments and past history) the Pope launched right away into remarks which exemplify why I find all this absurd.
The Pope said he wanted to "extend the hand of friendship" to the entire UK, not just the Catholic population.
He added: "Today, the
United Kingdom strives to be a modern and multicultural society. In
this challenging enterprise, may it always maintain its respect for
those traditional values and cultural expressions that more aggressive
forms of secularism no longer value or even tolerate."
friendship' is surely one that is proffered only by one from
whom it might be, or have recently been, questioned. Perhaps there is
something lost in translation here but I assumed the friendship was
taken for granted. He is here as a guest, head of the Roman Catholic
Church even though he pretends to be a head-of-state rather than a top
cleric in one of many branches of Christian church. State-hood was
indeed granted to Vatican City, so he is technically justified and can
get away with calling it a state visit, but it is a confidence trick.
be interested in his comments on multiculturalism is a
mystery. The cultural customs that are tolerated in any country are a
matter to be resolved by the elected government of that country,
mindful of its history. They can vary from time to time depending on
the extent to which they are practised, used or abused by citizens to
the benefit or damage to civil society. The French, for instance, are
big on integration and tolerate other cultures only to the extent they
are not contrary to current, historically developed, French culture.
This is logical and, like some other EU countries, they draw the line
at people covering their faces in public or flouting dress codes in
schools. The British are not sure what their culture is, most of the
time, so tolerance and integration are not viewed in the same context.
Britons tend to mind their own business until rather late in the day
they find they are under threat from people with strange ideas.
secularism has been so forcefully adopted by the western
democracies has been the same in every case: to prevent rule by clerics
who, instead of accepting the rule of civil law guided by Christian
values of mercy and compassion, claim divine right for themselves or
those they consecrate. 'Aggressive secularism' which I deplore as much
as anyone, has come about due to the confusion spread by ignorance
amongst both religious and secular movements, their leaders and their
lieutenants. Faith, which should mean faith in the future, in the value
of virtuous behaviour rather than unmitigated self-interest, in
rational altruism even if it falls short of heroism, in honest dealings
and in quality, faith in the response of nature to love and care, faith
worthy of the name, has remained or deteriorated in some quarters the
awful superstitions that characterised the mediaeval mind.
There is a lot to be said, that needs to be said, to reveal the real truth that was left for us to discover by the founder of our faith. Not a single word to that effect has emerged from a Pontiff in my life-time and there is not the slightest indication that it is about to now. This may not be a silly man in a frock, but he is certainly looking like another useless one apart from rather belatedly doing his best to sack a load of paedophiles who used superstition and fear for damaging ends.
Scotland it has just been reported that the demand for 'humanist'
wedding ceremonies has so increased that there is now a greater demand
for these than for the classic and church approved vesions. Anyone who
reads the New Testament in the light of all the history and
developments of the past few thousand years, with a modern education,
should be able to put two and two together to make four. Christianity
and Humanism are one and the same thing once the old (but necessary for
their times) imagery has been cast aside for the clear view. That does
no not mean humanity is responsible for the origin of space-time or of
the basis of logic, truth or beauty. The science and theology are not
as dumb as that! But it means we MUST GROW UP and cease the attempt to
impose outdated imagery on the minds of 21st century children if we
wish to avoid them throwing the baby out with the bathwater. We do need
faith, but it cannot and should not be in conflict with science, nor
should it need miracles other than those to be found in Nature. There
are more than enough of them, we have misused much of our knowledge so
far. That is the very message to be found again and again in the New
Testament. It is a message utterly misunderstood by many branches of
the Christian Church, to its detriment and our loss.
It has been reported that the Pope is to address the compatibility of reason and faith on this visit. Indeed he must if it is to do any good. It is not enough to complain about the 'aggressive secularism' of Richard Dawkins, he has to answer the questions Dawkins poses ) if he is to maintain that reason and rationality, while separate from faith, are compatible with the Roman Catholic version of the Christian faith or evn the Anglican version as understood by many. The time has come to do this, and if the heads of the Christian Church are not up to the joib they, and their senior supporters in the church hierarchy, should stand aside. Dawkins is a pretty low level scientist but it seems the Pope is no better and his theological expertise is too circumscribed to make the connections. Richard Ingrams is right to criticise Dawkins as mildly obsessed, but in saying that Dawkins 'discredits all paranormal phenomena' fails to spot that while some are discredited, others are explained. To explain is not necessarily to discredit and, since all scientific explanations are temporary, limited and contextual, explaining one thing in terms of another, no scientific explanation of what was once thought to be a mystery or magic need diminish its fundamental ineffability or the so-called 'spiritual' access by those with 'faith' to the resources of nature that science can only reach through laborious intellectual and physical methods.
the moment I see no sign of any proper understanding in the church
hierarchy of these matters. Here is a useful summary of the position
set out in an interview with Andrew Marr by Archbishop Nichols. It
covers certain questions which readers might be interested in (such as
why it is a 'state visit'), but on the reason for the deterioration of
relations between atheists, agnostics and Christians, nothing useful is
Archbishop on Pope's 'gift of faith'
On Sunday 05 September Andrew Marr interviewed Archbishop Vincent Nichols.
Please note 'The Andrew Marr Show' must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.
When Pope John Paul II came to Britain at the height of the Falklands War, his pastoral visit wasn't only historic, but it was welcomed even by non-Catholics for the message of reconciliation at a time of conflict. In eleven days time, his successor, Benedict XVI will arrive on these shores for the first ever state visit to Britain by a pope. This time the conflict's more to do with the Catholic Church itself - besieged by its critics, accused of cover-ups over child abuse - though perhaps the Pope is more concerned about the atmosphere in Britain, recently described as "a selfish wasteland with an anti-Catholic bias". Well those were the words of an aide to the Leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales: the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols. Archbishop, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
Do you share that sort of vision that Britain is a particularly Godless and indeed sort of death culture society, extremely secular by modern standards?
Well it's not how I would describe our society at all actually. I think our society is characterised as much by generosity and by genuine concern one for another, and I think religious faith is taken quite seriously by probably a majority of people in this country.
Yes. It's of course far from being a Catholic country.
Oh no, no, no.
To what extent do you think the Pope feels that he's stepping on as it were alien territory; that he's out there with a country far from being converted to the Catholic cause?
Well you know I think if you look at the history of this Pope's endeavours, they have always been to engage intelligently, at times academically with alternative views and alternative philosophies. So his great effort as a philosopher has been to engage with the philosophy of secularism. So I don't think he's coming to something he doesn't know and he doesn't understand. In fact I think he rather looks forward to an engagement with a society - the leadership of which has invited him here, so that precisely he can put forward the cause of faith. If there's a simple way of explaining I think the overall mission of Pope Benedict, it's to help us, to remind us that faith in God is not so much a problem to be solved as a gift to be discovered afresh. And I think that is quite relevant to today's society.
And is that going to be at the core of his message for this particular visit?
I would think so. That together with some of the unfolding of that gift of faith into how we live together as a society.
And how do you approach the Anglican Church, which candidly your church regards as heretical?
Well I think that's a word from the history books actually rather than from a modern lexicon. We would describe ourselves as brothers and sisters in Christ. And over the last twenty years, in a way since that great push that John Paul II gave to the relationships between our churches, we have built a pretty strong and pretty steady partnership. And I think present difficulties - and there are some -
… are not going to derail that partnership. We are committed to each other in the sense that a strong Church of England helps the cause of the Christian gospel in this country. That's our interest.
Do you have a similar sort of interest or alignment, particularly in this country, with Muslims in the sense that there is a sense, there's a view that there is a secular society and a secular agenda out there - not least among broadcasters and you know the metropolitan establishment if you like, putting it gently - and that Muslims, Catholics and other faith groups have a sort of tacit alliance against that?
Well you know on the Friday morning of the Pope's visit, he will sit down with about a hundred leaders from different sectors of our society - including business, enterprise, sport, the health service, education - and they will all be people of faith in God, but of the different faiths, and he will talk with them about the role of faith in God in sustaining and enriching public leadership. So I think there are common causes between all those who believe in God, but I think there are particular things, particular kinds of conversation we have with different faiths. So, for example, the Pope's invitation to Islam has been to explore more openly the relationship between reason and faith. So recently in Oxford, for example, there was quite an important conference about radical revision, radical modernising of Islam, and these are particular issues that we would take up with the Islamic faith.
The danger I suppose for your church is that a lot of these deeper messages will simply be swept aside by the whole global child abuse controversy. Is it the case, as far as you understand it, that Pope Benedict will meet some of the victims of abuse while he's in this country?
Well you know the pattern of his last five or six visits has been that he has met victims of abuse, but …
So we could expect that?
Well but the rules are very clear that is done without any pre-announcement. It is done in private and it is done confidentially, which is quite right and proper. So I think we have to wait and see. But I don't think I would quite put the problem and the challenge and the real tragedy of child abuse, especially for the victims, in the category of something that will as it were overshadow everything else about this visit. This is an issue we have to take seriously and we try …
… but it is not the whole story.
Of course. A lot of people are quite angry about the inclusion of Cardinal Brady, the Primate of Ireland, in this visit because he was actually present when some victims were persuaded to keep their mouths shut after being abused by a particular priest and they see this, therefore, as a lack of contrition.
Well this is a visit to the United Kingdom and that's the focus of the visit. Now wherever the Pope goes, cardinals come from different parts of the world to express their support for the Pope - for no other reason - so I think Cardinal Egan is coming from New York as well. So the fact that others will gather round, I don't think should distract from the focus of this visit - that this is to the United Kingdom.
(over) And yet the Pope had invited him to be with him and therefore …
No I don't think … It is cardinals make their own initiatives. The Pope's own entourage is very limited. It's about eleven people from the Vatican. Others come because they want to come.
And this is a state visit …
… not a pastoral visit. What's the difference?
Well the difference is who issues the invitation.
And in a way, as you said in your introduction, when John Paul II came, it was to the Catholic community and other people were interested and they watched and they were curious or maybe enthusiastic.
This is a visit to Britain?
This is a visit to the United Kingdom.
So that's why he goes first of all to Scotland. And the first person he wanted to meet and he should meet is Her Majesty the Queen. That's where it starts.
Now of course this is an expensive visit and there's been some controversy about the fact that British taxpayers, feeling pretty strapped and under pressure at the moment, are going to be forking out quite a lot of money for this.
Yeah, well so is the Catholic community too. But we're glad to, we're glad to. And a state visit …
Do you think it's fair that sort of as it were non-Catholic secular people and all the rest of it should be paying for this visit?
It is a state visit. And you know the day that this country closes its doors and says we can't afford state visits is a very sad day because it would be a real gesture of isolationism. And I think we should remember that the Pope comes as the spiritual leader of one in five of all people on this planet. And so this is not a minor figure as it were, but this is a leader of probably the oldest international institution which serves humanity in a tremendous way right around the globe. And of course an important aspect of it is the relationships that will be developed between the United Kingdom government and the worldwide Catholic Church. That's an important part of the agenda.
There's been lots of talks of demonstrations and so on. Are you concerned that this is going to be a security problem?
No, no, because we have worked very closely with the government, mainly through Lord Patten and the Foreign Office, and they have coordinated all the security arrangements, and I am quite sure that these have been done and been done well. And of course there will be people wanting to express alternative views - that's one of the joys of living in our society, we can do that - but I'm sure it will be done in a proper manner. After all, this country has a great tradition of hospitality towards its guests, and this is a very important guest and we look forward with great confidence to his coming.
Archbishop, thank you very much indeed for joining me this morning.
(over) Thank you.