Pope Benedict trashes John Paul II’s legacy

“As protests against the Pope continued to rumble around the Muslim world yesterday, Catholics began asking themselves if this highly intelligent man can really have been so crass as to have ignited the passions of millions of Muslims without realising that he was doing it.

“If the alternative version is more credible – that he knew exactly what he was doing – then the next question arises: why? The gloomy conclusion of some Vatican experts is that there was no inconsistency in the Pope’s choice of the words ‘inhuman and evil’ – quoted from the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaeologus – to characterise Islam. Such a negative view, they say, is consistent with all his words and actions with regard to Islam.

“Their claims make for a tragic contrast with the decades devoted by John Paul II to the challenge of bringing Islam, Judaism and Christianity closer together after many centuries of hatred and bloodshed. Now all that hard work, rowing against the tide of history, seems to be at risk.”

Peter Popham in the Independent, 19 September 2006