Joe, I usually appreciate your comments about subjects catholic, and I have to admit I am disappointed in your above post.
The pope was making an academic lecture. Academic lectures are not to be sliced into 30 second sound bites. They are to be digested whole, not carved into a buffet where you pick and choose the parts you like (or hate) the most.
Why is it that if someone misunderstands a speech the fault lies with the speech maker? Since when has it been written that the whole process of preparation, delivery, interpretation and understanding of a speech is the sole responsibility of the one who gives a speech?
No, no and a thousand times no. If I listen to a speech it is my responsibility to try and understand that speech in the terms set by the speaker to the very best of my ability. If I misunderstand the speech it might be due to the speaker, but if everyone else understands the speech then the problem is most likely due to my own problems. I must then return to the speech and see where it is I lost the intent of the speaker. I may disagree with the speech, and depending on my situation I may have an opportunity to voice my disagreement, but at the very least I must attempt to understand it first. The problem with the reaction to the Pope is that the Muslim world was reacting to the quote, and not to the speech. That is the fault of the Muslim audience and NOT the Pope.
The problem here was not with the Pope and he under-cut his authority immeasurably by apologizing. I did not even like his "I'm sorry they were upset" apology, but at least he put the blame squarely on the heads of those responsible. Now, every time he says anything that anyone anywhere disagrees with all that will be necessary is a large and vocal demonstration of anger and a demand for an apology. I can't wait until the abortion rights people react to his next sanctity of life speech. How can he exercise discipline even within the church if he allows dissent to influence his behavior? What's next? Apologies to the grapes for pressing them to make sacramental wine?
Never apologize. Your enemies won't believe you and your friends don't need it. Jesus didn't apologize to the hypocrites because he called them hypocrites. He just called on them to be pure in heart.
(not a Catholic, but an interested observer of all things religious)