LONDON – The singer formerly known as Cat Stevens, who converted to Islam and changed his name to Yusuf Islam, joined the furor over Pope Benedict XVI's recent comments about Islam by criticizing the pontiff on Sunday.
In the pope's controversial speech in Germany this month, Benedict quoted words of a Byzantine emperor that characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as "evil and inhuman."
The singer, whose hits such as "Moon Shadow" and "Peace Train" made him a star in 1960s and 1970s, said in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. that the pope's words proved he was not infallible.
"At one point, I used to believe that the pope was infallible," Islam said, referring to teachings he received while attending a Catholic school as a boy.
The pontiff "should have looked elsewhere if he wanted to quote but we respect the pope and his position," he said, adding it was good Benedict had retracted his statement "in a way."
Since his conversion to Islam in 1977, the 58-year-old has become well known to Britons as a campaigner for good causes.
In 2004, after flying to the United States from London, the singer was barred from entering the country after U.S. security officials said his name was on list of banned individuals.