Christian and Muslim leaders meet in Rome and pledge 'solidarity' with the poor and needy

A top-level meeting of Catholic and Muslim leaders has endorsed the "humanising and civilising" role of both religions.

The Vatican interfaith colloquium did not gloss over differences or "particularities". But delegates chose to focus on what they have in common, especially when working with the most deprived people in society.

The fourth meeting of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies in Rome looked at Christian and Muslim perspectives, shared values and how both faiths reach out to the needy and the vulnerable.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the council, presided over the Catholic delegation and Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, chairman of the Royal Institute, headed the Muslim delegation.

Both delegations were received by Pope Francis while in Rome for the council meeting.

Pope Francis said: "Dialogue is going out of ourselves, with a word to hear the word of the other. The two words meet, two thoughts meet. It is the first step of a journey. Following this meeting of the word, hearts meet and begin a dialogue of friendship which ends with holding hands. Word, hearts, hands. It's simple. A little child knows how to do it."

At the end of the colloquium, the delegates said in a statement: "We share beliefs and moral values. Our commonalities are much more than our particularities, and they constitute a solid basis peacefully and fruitfully living together, also with persons of good will who do not profess a particular religion."

They said both faiths were humanising and civilising "when their followers adhere to their principles of worshipping God and loving and caring for the other."

They pledged "solidarity" with the needy and also said help to the poor should be offered out of compassion and for the sake of God's favour. "It should never be used to proselytise," they said.