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‘A Common Word’ in the News

Pope Deplores ‘Ideological Manipulation’

AMMAN, Jordan — Visiting a mosque on the second day of his closely watched first visit to the Holy Land, Pope Benedict XVI
on Saturday denounced the “ideological manipulation of religion” and
called for greater understanding between the Christian and Muslim
faiths.

Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful during mass at St. George Victorious Cathedral in Amman, Jordan, on Saturday.

Speaking outside Al-Hussein
bin-Talal mosque in Amman, Benedict said that because of “the burden of
our common history so often marked by misunderstanding,” Christians and
Muslims alike should “strive to be seen” as faithful worshipers of God.

In
a speech that also touched on a central theme of his papacy and
thought, the tension between faith and reason, Benedict said that “the
ideological manipulation of religion, sometimes for political ends,”
was often “the real catalyst for tension and division, and at times
even violence in society.”

Relations between the Vatican and Muslims were strained in 2006 when, in a speech in Regensburg, Germany, Benedict quoted a Byzantine emperor who said Islam had brought things “evil and inhuman.”

After violence erupted in some parts of the Muslim world, Benedict said the remarks did not represent his own thinking.

Welcoming
the pope at the mosque on Saturday, Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal
of Jordan, a cousin and the principal religious adviser of King Abdullah II,
thanked Benedict for having expressed “regret” over the remarks and for
clarifying that they had been a citation in an academic speech.

Islamist groups in Jordan have protested the pope’s visit, saying he has not apologized for the 2006 speech.

In
a news conference on Saturday, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico
Lombardi, said that the pope had not prayed inside the mosque but
offered “a respectful reflection.”

He also said the pope had
not been asked to remove his shoes upon entering the mosque, as is
customary. Benedict had visited mosques twice before as pope.

Prince Ghazi, a Western-educated scholar who has helped foster a Vatican-Muslim dialogue called the Common Word initiative,
praised Benedict for “a reign marked by the moral courage to do and
speak your conscience, no matter what the vogue of the day.”

He
also singled out the pope’s efforts to “refacilitate” the use of the
traditional Tridentine Mass, sometimes called the Latin Mass, which has
been optional since the reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the
1960s.

That rite includes a Good Friday prayer calling for the conversion of the Jews.

Benedict is expected to travel to Israel on Monday.

In
Jerusalem, he is expected to visit the Western Wall, holy to Jews, as
well as the religious compound in the Old City known to Muslims as the
Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

On Saturday, on
a visit to Mount Nebo, the hill in Jordan from which Moses is believed
to have looked out on the Promised Land, Benedict spoke of “the
inseparable bond between the church and the Jewish people.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/10/world/middleeast/10pope.html



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