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Archive of September 17, 2006

Pope Benedict expresses deep sorrow over reactions to his words

Castelgandolfo, Italy, Sep 17, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI personally addressed the violent reaction to remarks he made last week, which made brief mention of Islamic Jihad.  The Pontiff who offered his regrets in Italian, also repeated his remarks in English and French.

Both Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, and Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, have made statements in recent days insisting that the Pontiff did not intend to cause offense with his quoting of a 14th century emperor who called militant Islam “evil and inhuman.”  

During his regular Angelus address, Sunday, the Pope attempted himself to assuage the angry reactions on the part of many Muslims, saying that he is, “deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries” to the remarks, “which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims.”

The offending quotations, the Pope continued, were from a medieval text, which do not “in any way” express his personal thought.

Instead, he said, the true meaning of his address, “was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect.”

In the meantime violence and anger have continued to escalate in the Middle East.

On the West Bank, protesters who had previously used firebombs and guns to attack Christian churches set two more ablaze, completely destroying the interior of one in the town of Tulkarem, the AP reports.

In Islamic-controlled Mogadishu, Somalia, a 70 year-old Catholic religious sister was attacked and killed while working in a mission hospital.  French news service, AFP, reports that two men broke into the hospital and killed the Italian sister as she moved from one building to another.

On Friday, a prominent Mogadishu cleric called for Muslims to "hunt down" and kill Pope Benedict for his remarks.

"Whoever offends our Prophet Mohammed should be killed on the spot by the nearest Muslim," hardliner imam Sheikh Abubukar Hassan Malin told worshippers at a mosque in southern Mogadishu, according to AFP.

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