VATICAN CITY – The Vatican's secretary of state said he hopes Pope Benedict XVI will go to Turkey despite the uproar over the pontiff's remarks about Islam and holy war, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.
"I hope that he will do" the trip, ANSA quoted Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone as saying when asked about the pope's plans to visit predominantly Muslim nation in late November. "Until now, there are no reasons not to make it."
The trip would be Benedict's first papal pilgrimage to a largely Muslim country.
Bertone, the pope's apostolic vicar in Anatolia, Turkey, said participants at a bishops' conference in Istanbul were expected to discuss the pontiff's pilgrimage to Turkey on Monday. The trip mainly had been planned to give Benedict the chance to meet with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians.
But State Minister Mehmet Aydin, who oversees religious affairs in Turkey, said the pope must offer a proper apology for comments about Islam he made in a speech in Germany on Tuesday.
Benedict, quoting from an obscure Medieval text, had cited the words of a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, Islam's founder, as "evil and inhuman" — prompting outrage among Muslims worldwide, including in Turkey.
On Sunday, Benedict said in Italy that he was "deeply sorry" about the angry reaction to his speech, and said the text did not reflect his personal opinion.
Aydin said the apology was not enough.
"You either have to say this 'I'm sorry," in a proper way or not say it at all," he told reporters in Istanbul. "Are you sorry for saying such a thing or because of its consequences?"