Pope Tells Germany's Catholics to Talk with Muslims

Pope Benedict XVI has called on Catholics in his native Germany testify their faith in Jesus Christ openly with Muslims living there.

The Pontiff made the appeal as he addressed visiting German bishops. He said Catholics conducting a dialogue with Muslims should have enough knowledge of Church history and languages to explain their faith convincingly, reports Reuters.

Controversy broke out in the Muslim world in September when the Pope made a controversial speech in which he quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor 's belief that Islam was evil and violent.

He apologised several times for his speech and has since expressed his earnest desire for Catholics and Muslims to work more closely together.

The Pontiff said the Roman Catholic Church viewed Muslims "with respect and good will".

"They mostly hold on to their religious convictions and rites with great seriousness and have a right to see our humble and strong witness for Jesus Christ," he said after noting that modern German society had been largely secularised.

"To do this convincingly, we need to make serious efforts. So wherever there are many Muslims, there should be Catholics with sufficient knowledge of languages and Church history to enable them to talk with Muslims."

Benedict said these spokespeople should have a solid knowledge of Catholic teachings.

Many of Germany's 3.2 million Muslims are of Turkish background who went to live in the country as foreign guest workers.

An official dialogue with Muslim organisations was launched by the Berlin government in September to promote their integration.

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