By TOM HENEGHAN | REUTERS
BERLIN, Sept 23 : Pope Benedict told German Muslims in Berlin on Friday they can expect cooperation and support from Roman Catholics as long as they respect Germany’s constitution and the limits it sets on pluralism.
Meeting representatives of the country’s four million Muslims, he said the constitution drawn up in post-war West Germany was solid enough to adapt to a pluralistic society in a globalized world and make room for new religions as well.
Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Muslims last year that Islamic law, sharia, had no place in Germany. She and other conservative politicians have recently been stressing Germany’s Christian roots.
Benedict told Muslim leaders that societies needed to agree on fundamental principles: “This common frame of reference is articulated by the constitution, whose juridical content is binding on every citizen, whether he belongs to a faith community or not.”
After the meeting, the pope left for the eastern German city of Erfurt, where he was due to meet Protestant leaders in the monastery where the 16th century reformer Martin Luther once lived.
He has said the meeting, which he asked to be longer than originally planned, would be a high point of his four-day visit. Protestant leaders are hoping he will signal some flexibility on their requests for more ecumenical cooperation.
Muslims praise pope
Muslim leaders praised the pope for confirming through the meeting that Islam was now a part of German society. But they said their loyalty to the constitution was never in question.
“As Muslims in Germany, we have always said that we see the German constitution as a good basis for peaceful life together,” Bekir Alboga, head of interreligious dialogue for the Turkish mosque association DITIB, told Reuters after meeting the pope.
NOTE BY EDITOR: Strange thing to tell the Muslims of Germany. It seems the Pope, with the Church’s child abuse scandals, has more problems with the law than Muslims have.