Benedict says Catholic Church holds esteem for Islam
Pope Benedict XVI has told Muslim diplomats that the Catholic Church holds esteem for the Islamic faith.
The Pontiff made the comment this morning while addressing Muslim ambassadors to the Vatican.
The meeting was arranged in an effort to defuse the controversy sparked by his recent comments on Islam.
Benedict caused outcry across the Muslim world when he quoted from a medieval text describing the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed as evil and inhuman.
He has since apologised for the offence caused and has insisted that he was not expressing his own views.
However, many Muslim leaders say this does not go far enough and he should retract the comments in their entirety.
In his speech today, he expressed "total and profound respect" for Islam and called for "sincere and respectful dialogue".
He also said Muslims and Christians must reject all forms of violence and respect religious freedom.