Benedict XVI rebukes terrorism
COLOGNE, Germany – Pope Benedict XVI went before an Islamic audience Saturday and delivered the strongest rebuke of terrorism of his papacy, asking Muslims to join Christians in trying to combat its spread and “turn back the wave of cruel fanaticism” behind it.The 78-year-old pope later traveled in his popemobile to the rain-soaked Marienfeld, a former coal mine near the town of Kerpen outside Cologne for an outdoor evening service as part of the four-day Catholic youth festival.Hundreds of thousands of high-spirited pilgrims roared their approval as Benedict arrived in his mother-of-pearl Mercedes-Benz, waving and smiling as he greeted the crowds, estimated at some 800,000. Overhead, as if on cue, storm clouds that had threatened to drench the faithful began melting away, unveiling a bright blue sky.Before giving his homily, Benedict dedicated a huge bell at the foot of the altar to his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, the man who originated World Youth Day as a Roman Catholic festival. As it tolled, a choir performed a slow hymn while the crowd sang along.The meeting with Muslim officials in Germany was part of Benedict’s outreach to non-Catholics during his visit to achieve common positions on social issues and world peace. Germany has some 3.5 million Muslims, one of the highest figures in western Europe.The pope said Muslim leaders had a “great responsibility” in properly educating younger generations.”I am certain that I echo your own thoughts when I bring up as one of our concerns the spread of terrorism,” Benedict told the Muslim leadership, mainly Turks.”Terrorist activity is continually recurring in various parts of the world, sowing death and destruction, and plunging many of our brothers and sisters into grief and despair,” he said.The pope spoke of terrorism striking in “various parts of the world” but did not mention any specific attacks, assess responsibility or speak directly about suicide bombings. It appeared significant, however, that he chose a Muslim audience for his remarks on terrorism as many recent attacks have been blamed on Islamic extremists.”Those who instigate and plan these attacks evidently wish to poison our relations, making use of all means, including religion, to oppose every attempt to build a peaceful, fair and serene life together,” Benedict said.Vail, Colorado
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