The Pope has again risked provoking the wrath of the Islamic world, by criticising its treatment of Christians.
Benedict XVI attacked Muslim nations where Christians are either persecuted or given the status of second-class citizens under the Shariah Islamic law.
He also defended the rights of Muslims to convert to Christianity, an act which warrants the death penalty in many Islamic countries.
His comments came almost exactly a year after he provoked a wave of anger among Muslims by quoting a Byzantine emperor who linked Islam to violence.
Yesterday, near Rome, the 80-year-old pontiff made a speech in "defence of religious liberty", which, he said "is a fundamental, irrepressible, inalienable and inviolable right".
In a clear reference to Islam, he said: "The exercise of this freedom also includes the right to change religion, which should be guaranteed not only legally, but also in daily practice."
Addressing the problem of Islamic extremism, he added: "Terrorism is a serious problem whose perpetrators often claim to act in God's name and harbour an inexcusable contempt for human life."
Last September, radical British Muslims said Pope Benedict should be executed for "insulting" the Prophet Mohammed.
Throughout the Middle East and Africa, Christians were subjected to violence in retribution for his remarks.
His latest comments, however, come just days after one of the Church of England's-senior bishops warned that Muslim leaders here must speak out in defence of the right to change faith.
The Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, told Channel 4's Dispatches programme of his fears for the safety of the estimated 3,000 Muslims who have converted to other faiths in this country.
A poll earlier this year of more than 1,000 young adult British Muslims found that 36 per cent believe those who convert to another faith should be punished by death.
Pope Benedict is particularly concerned about the persecution of Christians in Iraq since the invasion of 2003.
Before then, there were about 1.2million Christians in the country. But the number has dropped to below 600,000.