Pope Benedict XVI has denounced what he called ‘religious manipulation’ as he attempted to build bridges with the Muslim world on his tour of the Holy Land. The Pontiff’s trip has been overshadowed by his 2006 speech seen by some as linking Islam to violence. However, during a visit to a mosque, Benedict was thanked for his recent expressions of respect for Muslims.“I must also thank you, Holiness, for the regret you expressed after the Regensburg lecture of September 13, 2006, for the hurt caused by this lecture to Muslims,” said Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal, senior religious adviser to King Abdullah. The Pope then tried to strike a note of harmony, highlighting the shared vision of Christianity and Islam. And he warned against the perils of religious misunderstanding. “Certainly, the tensions and divisions between the followers of different religions, sadly, cannot be denied,” he said. “However, is it not also the case that, often, it is the ideological manipulation of religion, sometimes for political ends, that is the real catalyst for tension and division, at times even violence, in society?” The Pope has one more full day in Jordan before the most delicate part of his trip – to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. He will visit a refugee camp within view of Israel’s wall sealing off the West Bank, and his every word will come under intense scrutiny from all sides.
Pope denounces religious 'manipulation'