Pope Benedict XVI has stepped into the controversy over Islam and violence during a visit to Germany, citing historic Christian commentary on holy war and forced conversion.
In a speech at the university where he once taught theology, Benedict made an unusual reference to jihad, or holy war - a concept used by today's Islamic extremists in an effort to justify suicide bombings and other attacks on the West.
Benedict's speech was about faith and reason, and how they cannot be separated and are essential for "that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today."
"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the pope said.
"He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Mohammed 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,"' he quoted the emperor as saying.
Clearly aware of the delicacy of the issue, Benedict added, "I quote," twice before pronouncing the phrases on Islam and described them as "brusque," while neither explicitly agreeing with nor repudiating them.
"The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable," Benedict said. He did not relate the Persian scholar's response to the emperor.
"Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul," the pope said.