10 May 2009

Pope calls for Christian-Muslim harmony

9:34 am on 10 May 2009

Pope Benedict has urged Christians and Muslims to jointly defend religion from political manipulation.

Speaking at the modern King Hussein bin Talal Mosque in Amman, on the second day of his visit to Jordan, he struck a note of shared purpose between the world's two largest religions, continuing a main theme of his trip to the Middle East.

"I firmly believe Christians and Muslims can embrace (the task of cooperation) particularly through our respective contributions to learning and scholarship, and public service," he told Islamic leaders and diplomats at the mosque.

Addressing the pope, Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal, reminded the pope of the "hurt" Muslims around the world felt in 2006 after Benedict quoted a Byzantine emperor who said Islam was irrational and violent.

Prince Ghazi, a cousin of Jordanian King Abdullah, told the gathering the Muslim world "appreciated" the Vatican's clarification and accepted that the pope was not expressing his own opinion at the time but making an historical citation.

He praised the pope for his "friendly gestures and kindly actions towards Muslims" since the 2006 speech prompted outrage.