The Vatican says Pope Benedict sincerely regrets that recent comments that he made about Islam offended Muslims.
Muslim leaders from around the world have criticized the Roman Catholic Church leader for a speech he gave to a group of academics in Germany on Tuesday . In it, he quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor as saying the Prophet Muhammad brought "only evil and inhuman things," such as holy war.
The Vatican says in a statement released on Saturday that the church regards Muslims with esteem. It says Muslims "worship the only God."
The Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone says the Pope meant to discuss the relationship between religion and violence and was urging the rejection of violence.
The Vatican statements appear to have done little to stem Muslim outrage. Morocco has recalled its ambassador to the Vatican over the remarks. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood says the Vatican statement does not go far enough.
The outrage is prompting fears of violent protests similar to those that followed the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper in February.