Pontiff Promotes Clear Thinking in Holy Land

Says Muslims, Christians Should Cultivate "Potential of Human Reason"

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AMMAN, Jordan, MAY 9, 2009 (Zenit.org).- After just one full day in the Holy Land, Benedict XVI has already repeatedly promoted a good use of human reason, saying today that this is a common challenge for Christians and Muslims.

The Pope arrived in Jordan on Friday for what he has called a weeklong "pilgrimage of peace." His first stop at a holy site brought him this morning to Mount Nebo, where Moses saw the Promised Land. He took advantage of the occasion to reiterate the Church's link with the Jewish people.

After leaving the Basilica of the Moses Memorial, the Holy Father traveled to nearby Madaba, where he blessed the cornerstone of a university being built by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. From there, he was off to the King Hussein bin Talal Mosque and the adjacent Hashemite Museum. He subsequently met with and addressed Muslim religious leaders.

In his discourse, he pointed to the use of human reason as common ground for collaboration between Muslims and Christians.

"Distinguished friends, today I wish to refer to a task which I have addressed on a number of occasions and which I firmly believe Christians and Muslims can embrace, particularly through our respective contributions to learning and scholarship, and public service. That task is the challenge to cultivate for the good, in the context of faith and truth, the vast potential of human reason," Benedict XVI said.

He explained further: "Christians in fact describe God, among other ways, as creative Reason, which orders and guides the world. And God endows us with the capacity to participate in his reason and thus to act in accordance with what is good.

"Muslims worship God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, who has spoken to humanity. And as believers in the one God we know that human reason is itself God's gift and that it soars to its highest plane when suffused with the light of God's truth.

"In fact, when human reason humbly allows itself to be purified by faith, it is far from weakened; rather, it is strengthened to resist presumption and to reach beyond its own limitations."

The Pope said that in this way, human reason can thus pursue the service of mankind, "giving expression to our deepest common aspirations and extending, rather than manipulating or confining, public debate."

Religion's contribution

Benedict XVI stated that following a religion in this vein, "far from narrowing our minds -- widens the horizon of human understanding."

And, he contended, "it protects civil society from the excesses of the unbridled ego which tend to absolutize the finite and eclipse the infinite; it ensures that freedom is exercised hand in hand with truth, and it adorns culture with insights concerning all that is true, good and beautiful."

This understanding of reason poses a challenge for Christians and Muslims, he said, urging them to leave aside particular interests "in order to embrace the profound satisfaction of serving the common good, even at personal cost."

"And we are reminded that because it is our common human dignity which gives rise to universal human rights, they hold equally for every man and woman, irrespective of his or her religious, social or ethnic group," he added. "In this regard, we must note that the right of religious freedom extends beyond the question of worship and includes the right -- especially of minorities -- to fair access to the employment market and other spheres of civic life."

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On ZENIT's Web page:

Full text of Pope's address: www.zenit.org/article-25838?l=english