Vatican spokesman: Bin Laden's accusations against pope 'baseless'

The Vatican says Osama bin Laden's accusation that Pope Benedict XVI has played a role in a worldwide campaign against Islam is "baseless." The Vatican spokesman says it is not surprising that bin Laden mentioned the pope in a new audiotape posted on a militant Web site. But Rev. Federico Lombardi says that accusing Benedict of disrespecting Islam and its prophet, Muhammad, is "absolutely baseless." In the tape bin Laden warns of a "severe" reaction for Europe's publication of cartoons of the prophet and says they are part of a "new Crusade" against Islam in which Benedict has played a "large and lengthy role." Lombardi on Thursday said the pope had criticized the cartoons on several occasions.