Benedict did not grovel during his Angelus address

The Holy Father gave his Angelus address today at Castlegandolfo. At the beginning he departed from his text many times to console those present who were being treated to heavy rain. The press reacted instantly, stating that the Pope apologized. However, if you listen to what he said, he did not. Let’s look at the Italian and figure out what the Pope really said (which was broadcast live by Al-Jazeera, among others).

Yes, he spoke of the reaction of muslims to his address in Regensburg. He said that he was "vivamente rammaricato" … "deeply regretful" about the reactions resultings over his use of a brief medieval text which, he stressed, did not express, in any way, his personal opinion of muslims. He underscored that he was citing a medieval text.

Benedict said that Card. Bertone, the new Secretary of State stated already the "real sense" ("autentico senso") of his words. He hoped that people would pay attention to what he actually said. He added that what we need is frank and sicnere dialog with great reciprocal respect. He said that the whole text was and is an invitation to dialog.

«Sono vivamente rammaricato per le reazioni suscitate da un breve passo del mio discorso all’Universita di Ratisbona, ritenuto offensivo per la sensibilita dei credenti musulmani».

Benedict did not use the stronger phrase "chiedere scusa", or "apologize". He did not use the construction "mi sono rammaricato" (rammaricarsi) , which would have meant "I am sorry about" something. He used "vivamente rammaricato" or "deeply sorry" but in the sense of "regretful" or "disappointed" about the reactions following his speech. In fact, the phrase "sono vivamente rammaricato per le reazioni" could really mean "I am deeply wounded by the reactions". [UPDATE: The official English translation released after the fact says: "I am deeply sorry for the reactions"]

It is true that he distanced himself from that text. He said that Paleologus’s words were not his sentiments. You can say that this was an apology if you add all the elements together, but …. there it is. It won’t be enough, of course, for many (for the "thick"). It can be interpreted as an apology and, in a sense, it MUST be. There are in Islamic countries Christian communities in grave peril. Had the Pope not said something like this, those people would be in even greater danger. He had to apologize without apologizing while keeping his agenda on the table.

He added some additional insightful comments about the liturgical feasts of the Exaltation of the Cross and of the Sorrowful Mother. He added that the scandel of the Cross, considered a foolishness to the pagans, helps man to overcome slavery to sign. The Cross, symbol of death and of love, defeats hatred and violence and generates eternal life. In the hype about the comments at Regensburg, don’t forget to read everything Benedict said about the meaning of the Cross for our own sufferings. It was wonderful.

I was very pleased that His Holiness did not grovel over this. Indeed, his words in German to the German pilgrims were rather poignant in his reference to suffering in difficult situations.

The upshot of today’s address was: "Read the whole text and then let’s have a real discussion based on what I really said, not based on a brief citation I used in the speech."

He said he would speak more at length during his upcoming Wednesday audience.

In the meantime, Corriere della Sera rushed to put on its website that the Pope "apologized" … "il Papa chiede scusa" … to muslims. Well… yes and no.

Of course, the reaction of the press and muslim world underscores the point the Pope made in Regensburg. Christians are not treated fairly by muslims, violence is used against them, and reason is not employed. The Pope wanted to bring the use of violence (read "jihad") onto the table. Muslims cannot critically examine their own texts, as Christians do. Real theological dialog with muslims is not possible. Benedict stated that Islam thinks that Allah can be contradictory, which is absolutely different from Christian thought about God. But more on that later.

In the meantime, the muslim goverment in Sudan is committing genocide at Darfur.

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  1. Mike says:

    The Pope did make a pointed statement about the moslems. He is no fool. Despite all the diplomatic back and forth now, What is the true meaning of all of this? I’m sure Benedict could have found an equally pointed remark about Christians wielding the sword but apparently he did not. He told the truth – but he is the Pope and and his intentions must go beyond the academic. Why this? Why now?


  2. Mike: What is the “this” you are asking about?

  3. Fr Jerome says:

    I applaud the Holy Father for his stance and his stand. It is about time someone addressed the abuses of Islam that none of it’s own leaders seem incapable of doing. At the same time it is good the Holy Father has reminded us of our real vocation as Christians, as Catholics and by doing so hopefully has succinctly redressed the over enthusiasm of the last Holy Father.

  4. Fr Jerome says:

    mi chiede scusa – should have read “seem capable” not “incapable” ref Muslim leaders!

  5. Andrew says:

    The Pope’s speech was above all an enlightening and inspiring talk touching on the mystery of the invisible, incomprehensible God, and on the mystery of man. Reminded me of a statement made once by Padre Pio: “I am an enigma to myself”.

    And that seems to have passed the vociferating multitudes unnoticed. Intrate per angustam portam.

  6. Mike says:


    The “this” is the qoutation re Mohammed’s evil innovations. I understand this must be seen in context but to mention “evil” and the prophet in the same sentence seems imprudent (for the Pope) unless there is a more important underlying meaning that is being expressed. I think the Holy Father is up to something in his usual manner. I guess I’m wondering what the political- for lack of a better word – subtext is?


    (ps – went to a fine mass this morning and the priest spoke of the “rational” God and the rational will of men to chose him by reason of intellect as opposed to choosing under coercion (the sword). All this in the context of John’s gospel and The(“rational” Word.)

  7. Victor says:

    Well – at least the Holy Father got his speech being read by a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t have read it. Even if he himself did not intend this – surely the Holy Spirit did…

  8. Jack says:

    I seems atrange that so called “moderate Islamists” cannot understand–Res Ipsa Loquitur–their violent responses speak for themselves.

  9. Sinopoli says:

    Well, I am with Fr Jerome. Papa Ratzi has said aloud what many might think is that which needed to be said. Whereas the Catholic religion is a faith based firmly on love – his first encyclical is Deus Caritas Est – he surely knew what he wanted to say, although he may not have realised the import of and reaction to his remarks. It adds to his stature, IMNSHO.

    The undeniable fact is the media have whacked it right up to boiling point, it’s a heck of a good story for them, they do not look at it in the way that many a Catholic may regard it. The reaction of many Muslims has been, upon learning they are described as being violent, to go out and prove it (taking a report about Palestine for example).

  10. Robert says:

    The tragedy of this whole episode is that it has become obvious that there will NOT be a dialogue about violence in the name of religion. In fact, religious violence will again be used to stifle freedom of expression.

  11. Catholic Lady says:

    The saddest part of all this to me is how irresponsible the media has been in their reporting.

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