- Benedict XVI - Christians - Jews - Jordan - King Abdullah II of Jordan - Vatican
AFP - Pope Benedict XVI told Muslim leaders in a Jordanian mosque on Saturday that it was not religion that sowed division between the world's communities but its manipulation for ideological ends.
In a speech delivered in Amman's huge Al-Hussein Mosque, the pope told his audience who also included Christian prelates, that all human beings regardless of their faith were God's creatures and that all places of worship were like jewels on the earth.
But he made no new apology for a 2006 address in which he quoted a mediaeval Christian emperor who criticised some teachings of the Prophet Mohammed as "evil and inhuman."
The pontiff apologised at the time for the "unfortunate misunderstanding" but ahead of his visit to Jordan, the kingdom's main opposition party the Islamic Action Front (IAF) said the pope was not welcome unless he again apologised.
"Certainly, the contradiction of tensions and divisions between the followers of different religious traditions, sadly, cannot be denied," the leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics told his audience.
"However, is it not also the case that often it is the ideological manipulation of religion, sometimes for political ends, that is the real catalyst for tension and division, and at times even violence in society?"
On his arrival in Amman on Friday at the start of his eight-day Holy Land tour that will also take him to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Benedict underlined his "deep respect" for Islam.