Pope Benedict XVI faced sharp reactions on Thursday to a lecture in which he linked Islam with violence, with Muslim leaders in several countries demanding he apologise.
"We hope that the Church will very quickly... clarify its position so that it does not confuse Islam, which is a revealed religion, with Islamism, which is not a religion but a political ideology," the head of the French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM), Dalil Boubakeur, said.
Benedict provoked the outcry with comments on Tuesday in a theological lecture to staff and students at the University of Regensburg, in the most political part of a largely personal visit to his native Bavaria in southern Germany.
Couching his criticism in a historical reference to a 14th century Byzantine emperor, the Pope implicitly denounced connections between Islam and violence, particularly with regard to jihad, or "holy war".
"He said, I quote, '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,'" Benedict said, quoting the Byzantine source on the Prophet Mohammed, founder of the Muslim faith.
The comments provoked an outcry among Muslims in several countries.