POPE BENEDICT is sorry Muslims were offended by a speech on Islam that provoked fury around the world and led to calls for the leader of the Catholic church to apologise, an aide said on Saturday.
“The Holy Father is very sorry that some passages of his speech may have sounded offensive to the sensibilities of Muslim believers,” said Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone in a statement.
The worst crisis since Benedict was elected in April 2005 was sparked by a speech in his native Germany on Tuesday that appeared to endorse a Christian view, contested by most Muslims, that early Muslims spread their religion by violence.
The backlash has cast doubt on a planned visit to Turkey by the Pope in November. In an early reaction to the Vatican statement, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said it was not enough and they wanted “a personal apology”.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and other German politicians defended his comments, saying he had been misunderstood. "It was an invitation to dialogue between religions," she told the mass-circulation Bild newspaper in an interview.