Pope Benedict XVI said on Wednesday that he has "deep respect" for Islam and that he hoped remarks he made in Germany last week - which sparked angry reactions in much of the Muslim world - can lead to dialogue among religions.
The pope acknowledged his remarks were open to misinterpretation, but insisted he had not intended to endorse a negative view of Islam.
"I hope that in several occasions during the visit ... My deep respect for great religions, in particular for Muslims - who worship the one God and with whom we are engaged in defending and promoting together social justice, moral values, peace and freedom for all men - has emerged clearly," Benedict said during his weekly audience at the Vatican.
"I trust that after the initial reaction, my words at the university of Regensburg can constitute an impulse and encouragement toward positive, even self-critical dialogue both among religions and between modern reason and Christian faith," the pope told thousands of faithful in St. Peter's Square. Security in the square had been stepped up.
At the university of Regensburg, Benedict cited the words of a Byzantine emperor. "This quote unfortunately lent itself to be misunderstood," the pontiff said, in comments that he repeated in several languages.
"In no way did I wish to make my own the words of the medieval emperor," the pope said.
"I wished to explain that not religion and violence, but religion and reason go together," he added, drawing applause from the crowd.