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Full text: Pope speaks to Germany’s Muslim leaders

By on Friday, 23 September 2011

Pope Benedict XVI talks with Ali Dere, a professor for Islamic theology at the university of Bonn (AP Photo/Wolfgang Radtke, pool)

Pope Benedict XVI talks with Ali Dere, a professor for Islamic theology at the university of Bonn (AP Photo/Wolfgang Radtke, pool)

Dear Muslim friends, I am glad to be able to welcome you here, as the representatives of different Muslim communities in Germany. From my heart I thank Professor Mouhanad Khorchide for his kind greeting. His words show me what a climate of respect and trust has grown up between the Catholic Church and the Muslim communities in Germany.

Berlin is a good place for a meeting like this, not only because the oldest mosque on German territory is located here, but also because Berlin has the largest Muslim population of all the cities in Germany.
From the 1970s onwards, the presence of numerous Muslim families has increasingly become a distinguishing mark of this country. Constant effort is needed in order to foster better mutual acquaintance and understanding. Not only is this important for peaceful coexistence, but also for the contribution that each can make towards building up the common good in this society.
Many Muslims attribute great importance to the religious dimension of life. At times this is thought provocative in a society that tends to marginalize religion or at most to assign it a place among the individual’s personal choices.

The Catholic Church firmly advocates that due recognition be given to the public dimension of religious adherence. In an overwhelmingly pluralist society, this demand is not unimportant. Care must be taken to guarantee that others are always treated with respect. Mutual respect grows only on the basis of agreement on certain inalienable values that are proper to human nature, in particular the inviolable dignity of every single person. Such agreement does not limit the expression of individual religions; on the contrary, it allows each person to bear witness explicitly to what he believes, not avoiding comparison with others.

In Germany – as in many other countries, not only Western ones – this common frame of reference is articulated by the Constitution, whose juridical content is binding on every citizen, whether he belong to a faith community or not.

Naturally, discussion over the best formulation of principles like freedom of public worship is vast and open-ended, yet it is significant that the Basic Law expresses them in a way that is still valid today at a distance of over sixty years (cf. Art. 4:2). In this law we find above all the common ethos that lies at the heart of human coexistence and that also in a certain way pervades the apparently formal rules of operation of the institutions of democratic life.

We could ask ourselves how such a text – drawn up in a radically different historical epoch, that is to say in an almost uniformly Christian cultural situation – is also suited to present-day Germany, situated as it is within a globalized world and marked as it is by a remarkable degree of pluralism in the area of religious belief.

The reason for this seems to me to lie in the fact that the fathers of the Basic Law at that important moment were fully conscious of the need to find particularly solid ground with which all citizens would be able to identify. In seeking this, they did not prescind from their own religious beliefs; indeed for many of them, the real source of inspiration was the Christian vision of man. But they knew they had to engage with the followers of other religions and none: common ground was found in the recognition of some inalienable rights that are proper to human nature and precede every positive formulation.
In this way, an essentially homogeneous society laid the foundations that we today consider valid for a markedly pluralistic world, foundations that actually point out the evident limits of pluralism: it is inconceivable, in fact, that a society could survive in the long term without consensus on fundamental ethical values.

Dear friends, on the basis of what I have outlined here, it seems to me that there can be fruitful collaboration between Christians and Muslims. In the process, we help to build a society that differs in many respects from what we brought with us from the past. As believers, setting out from our respective convictions, we can offer an important witness in many key areas of life in society. I am thinking, for example, of the protection of the family based on marriage, respect for life in every phase of its natural course or the promotion of greater social justice.

This is another reason why I think it important to hold a day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world, as we plan to do on 27 October next, twenty-five years after the historic meeting in Assisi led by my predecessor, Blessed Pope John Paul II. Through this gathering, we wish to express, with simplicity, that we believers have a special contribution to make towards building a better world, while acknowledging that if our actions are to be effective, we need to grow in dialogue and mutual esteem.

With these sentiments I renew my sincere greetings and I thank you for this meeting, which has greatly enriched my visit to my homeland. Thank you for your attention!

  • tommo

    God Bless our Pontiff.  A remarkable man.  

  • Parasum

    “…as we plan to do on 27 October next, twenty-five years after the
    historic meeting in Assisi led by my predecessor, Blessed Pope John Paul

    ## And two days after the canonisation in 1970 of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales who chose to suffer  ignominy, insult, and & death, rather than to accommodate the Faith they held to the schisms and heresies of Henry VIII and his sucessors. Assisi is a denial of the need for the sufferings of the martyrs of every age and nation, from righteous Abel to the martyrs of the antiChristian & totalitarian tyrannies of our own times. the Assisi Abominations are a colossal insult to them and to the God Who gave them grace to prefer Him to life itself, and a denial that Catholics must love God more than their own lives, even when this means they must suffer & die. It adds up to preaching thjat Christians are entitled to deny Christ in order to save their earthly lives.

    The end sought by these wicked gatherings is good – that is certain. What is evil, is the subjection of the First Commandment to something that should be its fruit. This is make ends and means change places, as though we could promote the Kingship of God by denying His absolute claim on our unreserved obedience. This is like crucifying Christ in order to avoid offending God by permitting the Law to be dishonoured. We cannot honour God by treading underfoot the very commandment that expresses His absolute right to all we are & have & do. This diastrous and idolatrous confusion of ends with means is the fruit of diplomatic Catholicism, the Catholicism that suffocates the grerat good that is evangelism in order to serve the lesser good of dialogue. Peace & righteousness on earth are a delusion, if they are not founded on the demands of the Gospel. Assisi’s peace & righteousness cannot be that of the KIngdom of God and His Christ, because Assisi’s peace & righteousness are founded on disobedience to God and rejection of Christ. 

  • deepoctave

    Thank you, Holy Father, for leading the way!

    Parasum, don’t expect your opinions to be taken seriously when you fail to provide any quotes, any context or any reasonable logic in defense of them.

  • Free4rb

    Christ is the one way, one truth and one life: John 14:6. We as keepers of the faith only by Christ should live letting GOD’s love be without hypocrisy. If one was to support the lies of false apostles to discredit our LORD , the LORD of host, we are agreeing to be allies of the enemy whose final place is the pit of perdition. Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil is walking about like a lion seeking whom he may devour: 1 Peter 5:8.