Over the past two days, Muslim and Catholic leaders have discussed the theme "Love of God, Love of Neighbor" from two main standpoints: "theological and spiritual fundamentals" and "the dignity of the human person and mutual respect."
"I was pleased to learn," Pope Benedict said, "that you were able at this meeting to adopt a common position on the need to worship God totally and to love our fellow men and women disinterestedly, especially those in distress and need. God calls us to work together on behalf of the victims of disease, hunger, poverty, injustice and violence." In addition, the Holy Father described how "for Christians the love of God is inseparably bound to the love ... of all men and women, without distinction of race and culture. ... The Muslim tradition is also quite clear in encouraging practical commitment in serving the most needy."
At the same time, Benedict XVI stressed that, "Only by starting with the recognition of the centrality of the person and the dignity of each human being, respecting and defending life which is the gift of God, and is thus sacred for Christians and for Muslims alike - only on the basis of this recognition, can we find a common ground for building a more fraternal world, a world in which confrontations and differences are peacefully settled, and the devastating power of ideologies is neutralized."
The Pope also lambasted the way that religion is robbed of its credibility when it is coupled with violence. "God's name can only be a name of peace and fraternity, justice and love. We are challenged to demonstrate, by our words and above all by our deeds, that the message of our religions is unfailingly a message of harmony and mutual understanding. It is essential that we do so, lest we weaken the credibility and the effectiveness not only of our dialogue, but also of our religions themselves."
Concluding his address Pope Benedict reaffirmed the efforts of the Catholic-Muslim Forum saying, "let us unite our efforts, animated by good will, in order to overcome all misunderstanding and disagreements. Let us resolve to overcome past prejudices and to correct the often distorted images of the other which even today can create difficulties in our relations; let us work with one another to educate all people, especially the young, to build a common future."