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Pope Meets with Germany's Muslim Leaders


Pope Benedict XVI told Muslim leaders in Germany Saturday that Christians and Muslims must work together to defeat terrorism. The pope said terrorism undermines the foundations of all civil society.

The pope used his meeting with Muslim leaders from Germany's Turkish community to address concerns over the spread of terrorism. He said terrorism is sowing death and destruction, and plunging many into grief and despair.

The pope said those who instigate and plan these attacks evidently wish to poison relations between Christians and Muslims.

He said that if they want to succeed in turning back the wave of terrorism, Christians and Muslims together must eliminate rancor, resist intolerance and oppose violence.

Pope Benedict said this is a task, which is difficult, but not impossible. Then he said Muslim leaders had a great responsibility in properly educating their younger generations.

He said they must guide the younger generation of believers in the Islamic faith. "There is no room for apathy and disengagement," the pope said, "and even less for partiality and sectarianism."

"We must not yield to fear or pessimism, but cultivate optimism and hope," The pope said.

Muslim leaders expressed satisfaction following the meeting. The president of the Turkish Islamic Union, said the participants shared the pope's position. He said: "With this common platform, we are able together to fight terrorism."

Germany has a population of three-point-five-million Muslims, one of the highest in Europe. The pope said he had wanted to meet the leaders of Muslim communities in Germany, because this is where he was born, studied and lived for a good part of his life.

German Cardinal Karl Lehmann, speaking after the meeting, said it took place in a peaceful and friendly atmosphere.

The cardinal said the Holy Father made it very clear that this interreligious and intercultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims is vital.

Pope Benedict's meeting during his four-day visit to his homeland, the first foreign trip of his papacy, was part of his efforts to reach out to other religions.

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