The Vatican has justified what appeared to be an about-face on the attack in Libya that killed a US ambassador and three other Americans, saying it issued its initial statement before the deaths were confirmed. Islamic extremists attacked the US consulate in Benghazi on 11 September in retaliation for a film produced in America that ridiculed the prophet Muhammad.
In a declaration on 12 September the Vatican said the violence was "unacceptable", but emphasised that the angry reaction was "the serious consequences of unjustified offence and provocations against the sensibilities of Muslim believers".
However, in a tougher statement just 24 hours later, it expressed the "firmest possible condemnation" of the American deaths and said that "nothing, in fact, can justify the activity of terrorist organisations and homicidal violence". The first Vatican statement was issued with a translation in Arabic, but the second one was not.