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Pope Meets Muslim Envoys, Says Religions Must Reject Violence

  • VOA News

Pope Benedict says Christians and Muslims must work together against intolerance and violence, and stressed dialogue between the two religions is vital to world peace.

Speaking in French, the pope expressed his deep respect for all Muslims. He was addressing Muslim diplomats and leaders of Italy's Islamic community gathered at Castel Gandolfo his summer residence outside Rome, as he sought to defuse anger over his recent remarks about Islam.

The pope did not specifically mention the quotation that gave rise to the controversy, saying the circumstances that led to Monday's meeting are well-known. He said he arranged the meeting to strengthen the bonds of friendship between the two faiths.

Earlier this month, the pope quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor who had criticized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. Benedict has said those are not his own views.

Muslims worldwide have protested the pope's remarks.

The Italian representative of the World Muslim League Mario Scialoja described the pope's speech today as "very good and warm." He said the pope recalled the differences but expressed his willingness to continue dialogue.

Iraq's ambassador to the Holy See said the pope's address should end the anger that followed his comments on Islam.

The pope also quoted his predecessor, John Paul, who had close relations with the Muslim world, as saying respect and dialogue require "reciprocity" in all fields, including religious freedom.

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