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    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    Pope talk


    In a speech at Regensburg University, Benedict made an unusual reference to jihad, or holy war — a concept used by Islamic extremists to justify suicide bombings and other attacks.

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    Citing historic Christian commentary on holy war and forced conversion, the Pope quoted from a 14th-century Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Paleologos.

    "The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the Pope said. "He said, I quote, `Show me just what (Islamic Prophet) Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'"

    Clearly aware of the topic's sensitivity, he added, "I quote," twice before pronouncing the phrases on Islam, while neither explicitly agreeing with nor repudiating them. "The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable,'' he said.

    "Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul," the Pope said.

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