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Vatican Calls for Mutual Respect Between Christians and Muslims


The Vatican has called for mutual respect between Christians and Muslims.

The Vatican's top official for interfaith dialogue, Cardinal Paul Poupard, Friday presented the text of the annual Vatican statement to the followers of Islam at the end of their month-long Ramadan fast. It is the first time the Vatican has highlighted its message at a formal news conference.

This year's message, addressed to "dear Muslim friends," says inter-religious dialogue is not always easy but is more necessary than ever. It refers implicitly to Pope Benedict's recent remarks about Islam, which many Muslims found offensive.

Cardinal Poupard cited injustice, poverty and conflicts among the serious problems of our times. He added that "violence and terrorism are a particularly painful scourge."

The Vatican official warned that the credibility of religions and religious leaders will be questioned if believers do not take a stand against terrorism.

Pope Benedict is scheduled to travel to Turkey at the end of November for his first visit to a majority Muslim country.

In a September speech in Germany, the pontiff quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor criticizing the Prophet Mohammed for his "command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." The statement sparked protests in Muslim countries.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.