Pope Benedict XVI has met Muslim ambassadors and Italian Islamic leaders – in an attempt to defuse anger over a recent speech, in which he quoted a medieval text linking Islam to violence. Envoys from Iran, Iraq and Turkey were among those who accepted an invitation to the private audience with the Pope, at his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, near Rome.
Opening the audience with a speech he wrote over the weekend, the Pontiff said he had “total and profound respect” for the Muslim faith and called for inter-faith dialogue, saying it was vital for the future. He added that Christians and Muslims alike must reject all forms of violence. He also quoted his predecessor, John Paul II, stating the need for “reciprocity in all fields”. And he said he was “deeply sorry”, following the reactions in some countries to his speech two weeks ago, in which he cited a text suggesting that Islam, unlike Christianity, sought to spread ‘by the sword’ Following the speech the Pope greeted the envoys individually, before concluding the meeting.