Pope urges Muslim leaders to help turn back wave of fanaticism

Meeting with Muslims in Germany, Pope Benedict XVI condemned terrorism in unusually forceful terms and called on Islamic leaders to help "turn back the wave of cruel fanaticism" in the world.

Catholic News Service reports that in his talk on Saturday in Cologne, the Holy Father stressed the responsibility of Muslim educators to form younger generations in the Islamic faith and promote attitudes of interreligious cooperation.

In particular, he said, the message that every human life is sacred "must be heeded and communicated to others. Should it ever cease to find an echo in people's hearts, the world would be exposed to the darkness of a new barbarism."

The 10 Islamic leaders - seven men and three women - represented more than 3.2 million Muslims who now reside in the pope's native Germany, about 4 percent of the total population. Most of Germany's Muslims are Turks who came to the country for jobs.

The pope's remarks about terrorism, the most extensive of his pontificate, came at the beginning of his speech. He said he was sure the Muslim representatives shared his concern about the spread of terrorist attacks today.

"Terrorist activity is continually recurring in various parts of the world, sowing death and destruction and plunging many of our brothers and sisters into grief and despair," he said. "Terrorism of any kind is a perverse and cruel decision which shows contempt for the sacred right to life."

The pope maintained that those who instigate and plan terrorist attacks want to poison relations between Christians and Muslims, "making use of all means, including religion, to oppose every attempt to build a peaceful, fair and serene life together."

In response, he said, Muslims and Christians need to work together to eliminate hatred and intolerance and oppose "every manifestation of violence."

Pope urges Muslim leaders to help turn back wave of fanaticism (Catholic News Service 21/8/05)

Church should encourage moderate Muslims, archbishop says (Catholic World News 20/8/05)
Clear papal challenge to Islamic leaders: Fight terror (Catholic World News 20/8/05)
Pope meets German Muslims in push for better ties (Reuters 21/8/05)
Benedict meets German Muslim leaders (One News 20/8/05)

Pope denounces terrorism, says improved relations with Muslims is 'vital' (Catholic News Agency 20/8/05)
Pope meets Muslim leaders (Sunday Times/Sunday Telegraph 21/8/05)
Pope's Address to Muslim Representatives (Zenit 20/8/05)

22 Aug 2005