It’s not so bad—the pope’s critique of Islam still stands
On further thought I realize that the pope’s retraction is not necessarily the total defeat for our side that I thought it was. He has only retracted the suggestion—probably an unsustainably extreme suggestion—that literally everything Muhammad brought was evil and inhuman. At the same time, the core of the pope’s spiritual and philosophical critique of Islam—that its god is a god of pure arbitrary will, a god not conformable with or communicable through human reason, a god who therefore demands nothing but man’s submission—still stands. He is still saying that Islam is a religion incompatible with our civilization.
However, this does not excuse the confusion the pope created by initially making his uncritical quotation of Manuel II’s statement and then taking five days to retract it.