Pope Benedict XVI denounced fundamentalist fanaticism in his address to a variety of figures, including Muslim leaders, at the start of a French pilgrimage at Lourdes. Over the course of Benedict XVI’s visit to France, he has emphasized the importance of religion in shaping public policy, a stand which has enraged some of the country’s advocates of secularism. The pontiff also extended best wishes to Muslim leaders in France for the month of Ramadan, but refrained from making reference to his Regensburg speech. Benedict has said that he regretted any offence that speech might have caused in the Muslim world.
The pope added that religion is central to Europe’s cultural foundation, and that “the search for God and the readiness to listen to him – remains today the basis of any genuine culture.” Muslim leaders said that they were impressed by his talk, but hoped to hear more a more concrete response about divides between Muslim and Christian communities.
Mohamed Moussaoui, the president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), told SaphirNews he was pleased with the opportunity for Muslims to be associated with two events: the exchange between the President and the Pope at the Elysée (where Sarkozy said he would do “everything for his Muslims compatriots so that they can live in equality with others”) and the aforementioned speech of the Pope at the Collège des Bernardins.
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