Speech controversy


Last month, Pope Benedict XVI gave a lecture at the University of Regensburg in Germany titled 'Faith, Reason and the University - Memories and Reflections'.


The Pope gave the lecture on September 12; within a week, Islamic leaders around the world condemned his speech. On September 16 the Vatican issued a placatory statement. On September 17, the Pope apologised for having caused insult but said his intentions were misunderstood.


The effect of the Pope's words spread throughout the world. A nun was shot dead in Somalia, churches in the West Bank and Gaza city were bombed, and protests took place around the world.


Most Islamic leaders condemned the Pope's speech - some called for violence, while most demanded an apology but called for peace. European nations generally took the stance that the Pope's words had been taken out of context.


The Pope quoted a medieval text in his speech which said: '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.'


How has the Pope addressed the issue? On September 25, the Pope held an audience with Muslim diplomats to mend relations between religious leaders. He called for open dialogue and reiterated that the outrage was based on a misunderstanding.