Pope Reaches Out to Muslims on Conciliatory German Tour
September 23, 2011
Pope Benedict XVI reached out Friday to Muslim leaders
Berlin, Pope Benedict XVI reached out Friday to Muslim leaders with a call for mutual respect on the second day of his visit to his German homeland. aimed at bridging the yawning gulf between religious faiths.
The 84-year-old arrived in Berlin Thursday at the start of a four-day tour of his native country, striking conciliatory tones with protesters, Jewish leaders and Church members alienated by the recent pedophile priest scandals.
On Friday, he turned his attention to the Islamic faith, calling for dialogue so the two faiths could forge a “fruitful collaboration.”
“We believers have a special contribution to make towards building a better world,” he told representatives of Germany’s four-million-strong Muslim community.
“If our actions are to be effective, we need to grow in dialogue and mutual esteem,” added the pope in his address at the apostolic nunciature, the Vatican embassy, which is located in a largely Muslim neighbourhood of the capital.
Christian and Muslims have many things that bind them, which can act as an example to society, Benedict said.
“I am thinking, for example, of the protection of the family based on marriage, respect for life in every phase of its natural course or the promotion of greater social justice,” he said.
Later Friday, the pope was to lead a ground-breaking prayer service with Protestant leaders at the monastery where Martin Luther studied in Erfurt, some 300 kilometers southwest of Berlin.
The pope has stressed the goal of unity in the Christian Church during his six-year papacy. Christians in Germany, the cradle of Luther’s Protestant Reformation, are neatly divided between Catholics and Lutherans.