Pope Benedict has made his first public appearance since his controversial comments linking Islam with violence. Despite the Vatican issuing a statement expressing his “deep regret” yesterday, the Pope’s been under intense pressure to make a public apology.
He opened his regular Sunday blessing with a plea for calm and understanding. “I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address 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 medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought. 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,” he added. The crisis could not have come at a worst time for the Pope. He is due to visit Muslim Turkey in November and has recently appointed two men to the jobs of secretary of state and head of diplomacy at the Vatican.