Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday he was "deeply sorry" about the angry reaction sparked
by his speech about Islam and holy war and said the text did not reflect his personal opinion.
"These (words) were in fact a quotation from a medieval text which do not in any way express my personal thought," Benedict told pilgrims at his summer palace outside Rome.
Benedict quoted from a book recounting a conversation between 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II and a Persian scholar on the truths of Christianity and Islam.
"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the pope said. "He said, I quote, '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.'" Benedict did not explicitly agree with the statement nor repudiate it.
He noted that the Vatican secretary of state on Saturday had issued a statement trying
to explain his words, which he delivered Tuesday in a speech during a pilgrimage to his native Germany.
"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."
Speaking about his pilgrimage last week, he said, "At this time I wish also to add that 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."
Benedict looked relaxed when he greeted the pilgrims who were standing in pouring rain in the palace courtyard. He smiled and said he hoped it would be better weather on Wednesday for his general audience when he planned to recount more of his pilgrimage to the faithful.
Police had confiscated metal-tipped umbrellas from some of the faithful as they entered the courtyard as part ofheightened security surrounding
Other security measures that were used Sunday, such as checks with metal-detecting wands, have been employed since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.