Pope Invites Muslim Ambassadors to Vatican on Monday

(Zaman) - Pope Benedict XVI has invited the ambassadors of Muslim countries as well as Muslim religious leaders to the Vatican for a Monday meeting at his residence, a senior Vatican official said on Friday, reports Trend.

This invitation has been interpreted as a move from the Vatican to break the ice with the Muslim world, which was offended by Pope Benedict's recent remarks in Germany last week. The pope is expected to say that his remarks on Islam were misunderstood.

During a visit to his homeland Germany last week, Pope Benedict criticized Islam and its concept of "jihad" or holy war, citing a 14th-century Byzantine emperor who said the Prophet Mohammed had brought the world "evil and inhuman" things.

Following the reactions from Islamic world for his remarks, Pope Benedict on Sunday made a statement to "calm down" the anger sparked in Muslim countries. "I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims," the pontiff stated. The pope defended that the speech was taken from an obscure medieval text on Islam, adding that the quotation did not reflect his personal opinion.

"Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul," the pontiff had said in a complex treatise on reason and faith during an address last Tuesday at Regensburg University, where he lectured in 1970s. Benedict had used the word jihad, choosing the emotionally and politically loaded Arabic term for holy war or struggle, which was interpreted as a veiled criticism of the Islamic concept of "Jihad."

The pope is planning to travel to Turkey in late November, it would be his first trip to a Muslim country.

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