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Pope: Christians an Asset to Muslim Countries

Congress Discusses Churches in Middle East

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 24, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is affirming that Christians add a richness to Muslim-majority countries.

Pope said this in a message written on his behalf by his secretary of
state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and sent to a conference Monday
sponsored by the Community of Sant’Egidio. The conference was on “The
Value of the Churches in the Middle East: Christians and Muslims
Discuss Together.”

In the message, the Holy Father expressed the
hope that the Middle East will be “a land of dialogue and fraternal
collaboration, mutual respect and peace, thanks to the responsible
contribution of all believers who live in it.”
The letter,
published Monday by L’Osservatore Romano, stated that the issue
discussed in the meeting has a “clear religious and social

The meeting, the papal statement said, “is one
more step in the patient and beneficial journey of dialogue between
Christians and Muslims on [topics] of mutual interest.” In particular,
it affirmed, the congress confronts the “crucial” issue “of the
presence of Christian communities in regions of strong Islamic

The statement encouraged congress participants “to
bring to light, also thanks to the involvement of key representatives
of the Islamic world, how the presence of Christians in the Middle East
represents a true richness for the whole society and a significant
guarantee of social, cultural and religious development.”
letter stated that the Pope “invokes divine blessings on the important
meeting, and fervently [hopes] that useful elements will emerge in it
that will make the dialogue between Christians and Muslims increasingly
fraternal, especially in regions where Christians are a minority.”

Bertone also recalled Benedict XVI’s speech to the Islamic
representatives in Cologne in August 2005 and his meeting in November
2008 with participants in the Catholic-Muslim forum promoted by the
Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

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