When I heard that the Pope had apologised for what he said last week about Islam, quoting (and clearly quoting, not at all suggesting it as his own opinion) Manuel II Paleologus who said: "Show me just what Muhammad 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" - I was horrified.
Why did he apologise?
Why should he apologise?
Firstly, and this may come as a shock to the Muslim world, but the Pope is a Catholic. No, really. And as such he neither accepts Mohammed as The Prophet, nor does he accept Islam as the best and peacable way to God. If this upsets Moslems, they need to get real.
Secondly, irrespective of creed or outlook, in the West we have something called "Free Speech". It allows all sorts of opinions to be expressed fairly and openly, even opinions we don't much like. It is as awkward for George and Tony as it is for the Pakistan Parliament, I am afraid, and we rejoice in it and in its awkwardness. If Islam wishes to airbrush out of history an opinion expressed against it - tough.
Thirdly, the BBC website, in reporting this story, contains these lines:
Hours before the Pope spoke, two churches in the West Bank were attacked with firebombs in what was believed to be a reaction to the Bavaria speech.
And in the Somali capital Mogadishu, an Italian nun was shot dead by gunmen. The shooting may have been connected to strong criticism of the speech by a radical Somali cleric.
So this peacable and non-violent religion demonstrates just how peacable and non-violent it is by reacting to a speech at a university gathering of academics by bombing two churches and shooting a nun. If it looks like a cow, sounds like a cow, smells like a cow, walks like a cow, and signs its cheques "Cow", sometimes it really is a cow.
And if they want us to believe they don't like violence, at some point either they stop the violence, or we stop buying the line.
But then I read what the Pope said today in his apology.
"I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims. These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought.
I hope this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with mutual respect."
Which is academic speak for: Please listen to what I say and don't just go bombing churches and shooting nuns. And if you'd like to stop doing that and actually talk and develop a respect for us, that would be nice too.
I like this Pope. I find myself in complete agreement on this issue.