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Last Updated: Friday, 15 September 2006, 15:12 GMT 16:12 UK
Pope Benedict XVI and Islam
Pope Benedict XVI in Freising, southern Germany
The Pope's comments came on a visit to Germany
As Pope Benedict XVI faces criticism from Muslim leaders for remarks made during a speech in Germany, the BBC's religious affairs correspondent, Rahul Tandon, looks at earlier views he expressed during his time as a cardinal.

This is not the first time Pope Benedict has been at the centre of criticism for his views on Islam.

Before becoming Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger, as he was known, was considered a theological conservative.

He appeared to be uncomfortable with Pope John Paul II's attempts to improve dialogue with the Islamic world. His predecessor was the first pontiff to step inside a mosque, during a visit to Syria in 2001.

During his time as a cardinal, Pope Benedict opposed Turkey's bid to join the European Union, saying it belonged to a different cultural sphere, adding that its admission would be a grave error against the tide of history.

And in 1996, he wrote that Islam had difficulty in adapting to modern life.

'New barbarism'

However, since his consecration, Pope Benedict has surprised many with his attempts to improve dialogue with the Muslim world. He is due to visit Turkey in November as part of that process.

But there have been signs of his earlier views.

Last year he accused Muslim leaders in Germany of failing to steer their youth from what he described as the darkness of a new barbarism.

Pope Benedict is under increasing pressure to clarify the remarks he made during his speech at Regensburg University.

For many, that will require a clarification of the relationship he wishes to develop between the Catholic Church and Islam.


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