The leader of the world’s largest Christian denomination has followed up his homophobic comments last week with alleged anti-Muslim remarks.
Speaking during a trip to his German homeland, Pope Benedict XVI quoted a 14th century Christian ruler’s view that the Prophet Mohammad had brought only evil to the world.
Muslims across the globe reacted angrily to this latest bout of intolerant language from the Pontiff, who last week mocked the West for its approach to gay rights.
The Pakistani parliament have passed a message of censure against the Pope, and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood said his ill-advised comments have “aroused the anger of the whole Islamic world.”
Speaking at a university in Bavaria, Benedict mused on the difference between Christians and Muslims, and the nature of religious violence. Glossing over the millions of people tortured and killed in the name of the Catholic Church, the Pope chose instead to paint Muslims as “only evil and inhuman, such as his (Muhammad’s) command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
Just before his visit to Germany, Benedict castigated a delegation of Canadian bishops visiting the Vatican.
He mocked the concept of tolerance for LGBT people in Canada, called the idea of gay marriage a folly, and attacked Roman Catholic politicians for following the wishes of their constituents.
His latest statements have been condemned across the Muslim world, and he has evidently caused deep offence to followers of the Prophet.
The BBC quotes Sheikh Youssef al-Qardawi, a prominent Muslim cleric in Qatar, as saying, “Muslims have the right to be angry and hurt by these comments from the highest cleric in Christianity.
“We ask the Pope to apologise to the Muslim nation for insulting its religion, its Prophet and its beliefs.”
In an attempt to stem the avalanche of criticism against Benedict, the Vatican issued a statement.
“It is clear that the Holy Father’s intention is to cultivate a position of respect and dialogue towards other religions and cultures, and that clearly includes Islam,” said chief Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi.