BERLIN — Pope Benedict XVI’s personal secretary has warned against the spread of Islam in the West in an interview with a German newspaper published Friday.
“We cannot deny the attempts to spread Islam in the West. And we should not be too understanding and let this blind us to the threat to Europe’s identity,” Georg Gaenswein told the weekly magazine of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. “The Catholic Church sees it clearly and is not afraid to say so,” he added.
Gaenswein described as “prophetic” the highly controversial speech that the Pope made at the University of Regensburg when he visited Germany last September in which he seemed to link Islam to violence.
“The speech was precisely meant to counter a kind of naivetÃ©. It is clear that there is not only one Islam and the Pope does not know anybody who speaks with binding authority to all Muslims,” he said. “The concept groups many different schools … some of whom use the Koran to justify reaching for a gun,” he said.
In the speech at the University of Regensburg in his native Germany, Pope Benedict quoted a medieval Christian emperor who criticized some teachings of the Prophet Mohammed as “evil and inhuman.”
* Actually, its worse…
The lecture sparked days of sometimes violent protests in Muslim countries, prompting the pontiff to say that he was “deeply sorry” for any offense and to attribute Muslim anger to an “unfortunate misunderstanding.”
But he stopped short of apologizing for the remarks.
The Vatican Web site posted an annotated version of the speech, in which Pope Benedict wrote that the offending phrase “does not express my personal opinion on the Koran, for which I feel the respect that is due to the holy book of a great religion.”
On a lighter note, Gaenswein revealed in the interview that the Pope always wears white, even in private, but declined to confirm reports that he wears shoes by the Italian luxury brand Prada.
* What? The Devil doesn’t wear Prada?