Pope Benedict XVI met today with a number of Islamic envoys to try and defuse some of the Muslim rage generated by his remarks on Islam.
The full text of pope's remarks to Muslim leaders at Castel Gandolfo can be read here.
Essentially, it was yet another call for `dialogue' and for the renunciation of violence done in the name of religion.
The remarks themselves were inocuous, and on the surface, there's nothing wrong with the Pope meeting with Muslim envoys..except that there is, given the context.
While this meeting and the Pope's remarks and assurances of respect for Islam will no doubt help to quiet things down and to ease the threat against Christians and Church property located in Muslim ruled lands, it obsecures the Pope's central premise in his original remarks - the Christian concept that G-d is a reasonable diety who has no mandate for forced conversion, violence and compulsion in religion.
Whether the Pope has actually apologized, it gives the appearance of an apology to the Muslim world..which is exactly how it is being represented by the Muslim press and the Islamic religious establishment, as a succesful exercise in intimidation.
As usual with these occurances, there has been no corresponding apology, no condemnation of the violence that occurred or call for peaceful dialogue from the Islamic world. Just like the MoToons controversy, from the Muslim's perspective, they `won' - and forced the Pope into acknowledging their power.
With all respect to Pope Benedict's position, this was a mistake on his part, and one that will be felt in the future.