In yet another effort to placate the Muslim world, Pope Benedict once again apologized for quoting a 14th-century Byzantine emperor’s anti-Muslim remarks. He then presented the religion with a lovely portrait of Muhammad on velvet. “It’s a wonderful likeness,” a Vatican spokes-priest said, “Look at the way his eyes follow you.”
From his residence Castel Gandolfo outside of Rome, the Pope said, “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.”
“These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought. Yesterday, the Cardinal Secretary of State published a statement in this regard in which he explained the true meaning of my words. I hope that 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 great mutual respect. So lighten up already”
The medieval text the Pope quoted was from the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus as saying: “Show me just what Muhammad 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.” But you have to understand that the emperor was under attack by the invading Muslim hordes when he said that, so maybe he was a bit stressed out at the time.
But basically what the the pope was trying to say was there must be more dialogue and less violence to further faith no matter what religion is involved.
Muslims responded by killing an Italian Catholic nun in Mogadishu, Somalia, burning seven churches in the West Bank, while in Iraq, the al-Qaida-led Mujahideen Shura Council declared in an Internet statement, “We shall break the cross and spill the wine…God will (help) Muslims conquer Rome…God enable us to slit their throats, and make their money and descendants the bounty of the mujahideen. So there.”
One Muslim stated, “How dare people infer that we are a violet religion!” as he burned the pope in effigy. Muslims clerics have declared an “international day of rage” on “Allah in the Family,” a popular weekly TV show aired by al-Jazeera. “Infidels who call Islam a religion of hate and violence shall feel our wrath!” they said.
The pope’s comments, clerics said, “were no apology. They were an accusation against Muslims that they didn’t understand his words. He quotes a 14th century Christian leader like it was a long time ago. Hey, we’re still living in the 14th century here, I mean really, did he not expect us to freak out over this? Hasn’t he been paying attention? And the painting? Not helping.”
Ben Al Mujah, a Muslim cleric told us, “The West doesn’t understand us. You help us fight off the Russians in Afghanistan, you save our people from genocide in Bosnia; you beat back the invaders of Kuwait. So naturally we’re going to perceive offense at any and every opportunity. It’s what we do. You people are soft and weak. You think we’d let Madonna get away with those religious stunts if she were Muslim? I think not.”
Still, the Vatican hopes that this will lead to further dialogue between the faiths and that the velvet painting would be a wonderful addition in any one of their mosques.