Pope Benedict sought Sunday to quell anger in the Islamic world over his recent public reference to Islam, saying he "deeply regrets" how Muslims interpreted his remarks.
The pope said his reference in an academic speech last week in Germany to a 14th century Byzantine emperor's criticism of Islam does not in any way express his personal opinion.
In last week's address to German scholars, Benedict also spoke of jihad (holy war), and said violence is not compatible with the nature of God.
Muslim political and religious leaders across the Islamic world denounced the papal speech and demanded an apology. There have been demonstrations and some incidents of violence.
Benedict says his speech was intended as an invitation to open a "sincere and frank" dialogue between Christianity and Islam, with what he called "deep mutual respect."
Today's papal apology was delivered in an address to pilgrims gathered at the pope's country residence outside Rome.