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Pope tells Muslims religion is force for unity

AMMAN (AFP/Reuters) – Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday urged inter-faith
reconciliation on the second day of a Holy Land tour but disappointed
Muslim clerics by failing to offer a new apology for remarks seen as
targeting Islam.

The Pope visited a mosque on Saturday in another attempt to mend fences with Islam after a 2006 speech caused offence.

pontiff in a keynote address to Muslim leaders in Amman’s huge
Al-Hussein Mosque bemoaned “ideological manipulation of religion” and
urged Muslims and Christians to unite as “worshippers of God.”

Religion should be a force for unity not division, he said.

the contradiction of tensions and divisions between the followers of
different religious traditions, sadly, cannot be denied,” the Pope told
his audience.

Among his audience in Amman’s huge Al-Hussein Mosque
was Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly, head of the Chaldean Church, Iraq’s
largest Christian denomination, who made the trip to the Jordanian
capital for the papal visit.

“However, is it not also the case that
often it is the ideological manipulation of religion, sometimes for
political ends, that is the real catalyst for tension and division, and
at times even violence in society?”

Some clerics expressed
disappointment however that the pontiff in his wide-ranging speech had
made no new apology for a 2006 address in which he quoted a medieval
Christian emperor who criticised some teachings of the Holy Prophet

he pontiff apologised at the time for the “unfortunate
misunderstanding” but ahead of his visit to Jordan the kingdom’s main
Opposition party, the Islamic Action Front, said the Pope was not
welcome unless he again apologised.

“What the Pope said was not an
apology,” said Hammam Said, the overall leader of Jordan’s Muslim
Brotherhood and University of Jordan professor.

Other Muslim leaders
echoed his comments. “We wanted him to clearly apologise,” Sheikh Yusef
Abu Hussein, mufti of the southern city of Karak, told AFP after the
pope’s address.