no pope in history has made a deeper study of Islam. Having explored every verse of the Koran, and engaged in long debates with Muslim scholars, he rejects the simplistic notion — held by fundamentalist Christians, and by the Roman Catholic Church until the middle of the 20th century — that Islam is evil. Yet he is convinced that some of its doctrines are morally indefensible. In Benedict’s view, a profound ambiguity about violence lies at the heart of Islam, arising from the Prophet’s belief that faith can be spread by the sword. Mohammed, after all, was a general whose troops beheaded hundreds of enemy captives. Asked recently whether he considered Islam to be a religion of peace, the Pope replied: “Islam contains elements that are in favour of peace, just as it contains other elements.” Christianity, by contrast, he sees as a religion of pure peace — which is why he adopts a near-pacifist approach to conflict in the Middle East. Where the pontiff differs from his predecessor is in his impatience with what might be termed “Islamic political correctness”. John Paul II hoped that prayer could bring Christians and Muslims closer together, and famously prayed alongside Islamic leaders at Assisi in 1986. He also reassured Muslims that “we believe in the same God”. Benedict would emphasise that the Islamic understanding of God is radically different from that of Christians. He has also refrained from issuing the apologies for historical misdeeds made by John Paul II, arguing that they are never reciprocated.
Indeed they are not. Read the whole thing.