Pope Highlights Bond With Muslims

Posted September 23rd, 2011 at 10:13 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Pope Benedict has met with Muslim leaders in Germany, and called for Christianity and Islam to grow together in “dialogue and mutual esteem.”

He met with Muslim leaders in Berlin Friday, on the second day of his trip to Germany. The pope stressed the importance of religion in modern society and said he believes there can be “fruitful collaboration” between Christians and Muslims.

The pontiff later traveled to the eastern German city of Erfurt to visit the Augustinian monastery where Christian reformist leader Martin Luther lived before causing a split with the Vatican nearly 500 years ago.

Pope Benedict met with the head of the Lutheran church, Nikolaus Schneider, who said it is time for Catholics and Lutherans to bridge their differences. Germany has about 25 million Catholics, one in three people of the total population.

On Thursday, Pope Benedict celebrated an open-air Mass before 70,000 Catholics at Berlin's historic Olympic Stadium. He earlier addressed the German parliament and urged politicians not to sacrifice ethics for power, citing Nazi excesses in Germany as a lesson in history.

The pope is on his first state visit to Germany. His trip has drawn thousands of protesters who marched through Berlin Thursday. Protesters carrying banners about sexism, homophobia and anti-Semitism also gathered outside the airport for his arrival.

At a formal welcoming ceremony at President Christian Wulff's Bellevue palace, the pontiff acknowledged the damage caused by the sex abuse scandals linked to Catholic clergy that have rocked the church. In a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel, he discussed the euro crisis and turmoil on the financial markets.

The pope also met with a delegation of German Jews in Berlin, the city that was once the center of Nazi power.