The Pope, speaking from St. Peter’s Square, told those gathered that he had used the emperor’s words as part of a discussion on the relationship between religion and violence - a small portion of a larger speech on the relationship between faith and reason. “I wished to explain that not religion and violence, but religion and reason, go together.”
The quote which has gained the most heat from Muslim countries and Clerics was from Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Paleologus. In a discussion the medieval emperor was having with “an educated Persian,” Paleologus speaks of the irrationality of Islamic Jihad, saying, “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
“This quotation, unfortunately, lent itself to possible misunderstanding,” Pope Benedict said of the line. “In no way did I wish to make my own the words of the medieval emperor.”
“I wished to call for a dialogue of the Christian faith with the modern world and for dialogue between all cultures and religions,” the Pope continued. “I hope that at various moments of my visit - when, for example, in Munich I underlined how it important it is to respect what is sacred for others - what emerged was my deep respect for all the great religions, and in particular for Muslims who 'worship the one God,' and with whom we are committed to promoting 'peace, liberty, social justice and moral values for the benefit of all humanity.'”
The Holy Father also reiterated his profound respect for Islam.
“I hope that my profound respect for world religions and for Muslims, who "worship the one God" and with whom we "promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values for the benefit of all humanity" (Nostra Aetate, 3), is clear,” the Pontiff said.
“Let us continue the dialogue both between religions and between modern reason and the Christian faith!”
Benedict XVI took a moment out of his regular Wednesday General Audience to clarify again comments he made last week at the University of Regensburg. The Pontiff repeated that the words he quoted from a 14th century emperor were meant to set up an academic discussion should not, in any way, be attributed to Benedict himself.