The Popes actions were certainly unwise...a little careless even. The whole furore over those infamous Danish cartoons vividly illustrated just how sensitive the Muslim world is to any percieved slight on their faith. Open and frank discussions are frankly a non-starter. Certainly, Western values and practices should be left at the door in any "discussion" on Islam if offence is to be avoided.
However, were the Pope's action really that unreasonable? What exactly did he do that created such offence and has resulted in him issuing a public and personal apology today? Forgive me, but I just can't see it. Are all unkind words on Islam forbidden, even if the context is merely to point out that someone else uttered them? That is in effect what the Pope has done.
Once again a claim that Islam is not a peaceful faith has prompted the threat of violence from some quarters, the charge of offending the Islamic faith from others and a blanket refusal to accept any form of critical dialogue. Of course the irony in this reaction remains, but by now it's getting a little tiring.
Today the Pope has issued a personal and public apology for any offence caused by his comments. However, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood have since stated that this apology is insufficent as it is not a 'clear' apology.
It is high time Muslim leaders stood up and were counted. The Pope's speech and its infamous quotation was greeted with prompt and loud calls for an apology for the offence caused. However, where are the similar reactions to the angry mobs who, in the name of Islam, burn effigies of the Pope and threaten violence to all who criticise Islam? Is it really the case that the former causes the greater offence to Islam?