Pope meets with Muslim leaders, calls for dialogue

25th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

25 September 2006, CASTEL GANDOLFO, ITALY - Pope Benedict XVI called Monday for "authentic dialogue" between religions and said Christians and Muslims should learn to "work together" to safeguard the world "against all forms of intolerance" and violence. The pope offered his olive branch during an unprecedented meeting with Islamic religious leaders and ambassadors from more than 20 predominantly Muslim countries. The meeting took place in the pope's summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, in the hills south

25 September 2006

CASTEL GANDOLFO, ITALY - Pope Benedict XVI called Monday for "authentic dialogue" between religions and said Christians and Muslims should learn to "work together" to safeguard the world "against all forms of intolerance" and violence.

The pope offered his olive branch during an unprecedented meeting with Islamic religious leaders and ambassadors from more than 20 predominantly Muslim countries.

The meeting took place in the pope's summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, in the hills south of Rome. It came 13 days after his controversial speech on the Prophet Mohammed that has sparked widespread anger in the Islamic world.

"In a world marked by relativism and too often excluding the transcendence and universality of reason, we are in great need of an authentic dialogue between religions and between cultures, capable of assisting us, in a spirit of fruitful co-operation, to overcome all the tensions together," the pope said.

"Christians and Muslims must learn to work together, as indeed they already do in many common undertakings, in order to guard against all forms of intolerance and to oppose all manifestations of violence," he added.

Monday's meeting capped a diplomatic offensive launched by the Vatican over the past two weeks in the aftermath of the pope's speech in Germany on September 12, in which he quoted a 14th century Christian emperor as referring to elements of Islam as "evil and inhuman."

The quotation triggered angry reactions in many Islamic countries, including churches being attacked in the Palestinian Territories and effigies of the pope being burnt in Iraq and Pakistan.

Benedict has since apologised for his words, insisting that his lecture on "faith and reason" at the University of Regensburg had been misunderstood.

"I wanted to explain that religion and reason, not religion and violence, go together," the pope said last Wednesday.

Delegations from Iraq, Pakistan, Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, and 17 other Muslim countries attended Monday's meeting, which was seen as marking a change of tack in the way the 79-year-old pope intends to deal with Islam.

Critics have argued that his "slip" at the University of Regensburg was symptomatic of the fact that Joseph Ratzinger had downplayed the importance of nurturing good relations with Islam during his first 17 months as pope.

In this context, his decision - taken shortly after his election - to sack Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, the Vatican's top expert on Islam, from his post as head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, is often cited as an example.

Speaking Monday, the 79-year-old pontiff said he had arranged the meeting with Muslim diplomats "in order to strengthen the bonds of friendship and solidarity between the Holy See and Muslim communities throughout the world."

Reports said his speech was greeted by lengthy applause in Castel Gandolfo.

DPA

Subject: German news

0 Comments To This Article