New York, Sep 16: Pope Benedict must issue a 'deep and persuasive'' apology for quotes used during a speech this week that described Islam as ''evil and inhuman'', The New York Times said in an editorial today.
''The world listens carefully to the words of any pope. And it is tragic and dangerous when one sows pain, either deliberately or carelessly,'' the Times said.
''He needs to offer a deep and persuasive apology, demonstrating that words can also heal,'' it added.
In a speech in Germany on Tuesday, the Pope quoted the 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, who said: ''Show me just what Mohammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'' Muslims worldwide have reacted angrily to Benedict's choice of quote and many have said he should apologise to dispel the impression he had joined a campaign against Islam.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi defended the Pope's lecture and said he did not mean to offend Muslims.
The Times editorial said this was not the first time Benedict has fomented discord between Christians and Muslims.
It cited a 2004 comment, when he was the Vatican's top theologian, against Turkey's joining the European Union because as a Muslim country, it was ''in permanent contrast to Europe''.
''A doctrinal conservative, his greatest fear appears to be the loss of a uniform Catholic identity, not exactly the best jumping-off point for tolerance or interfaith dialogue,'' the editorial said.