‘A man with little sympathy for other faiths’


Pope Benedict is being portrayed as a naive, shy scholar who has accidentally antagonised two major world faiths in a matter of months. In fact he is a shrewd and ruthless operator, argues Madeleine Bunting – and he’s dangerous

Only 18 months into his papacy and already Pope Benedict XVI has stirred up unprecedented controversy. As the explanations and apologies pour out of the Vatican – and thousands of Catholic churches around the world – the questions about what exactly this man intended by quoting a 14th-century Byzantine emperor’s insult of the Prophet Mohammed have only multiplied. Some say this was a case of naivety, of a scholarly theologian stumbling into the glare of a global media storm, blinking with surprise at the outrage he had inadvertently triggered. The learned man’s thoughtful reasoning, say some, has been misconstrued and distorted by troublemakers, and the context ignored.

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