Iranian President Confers with Pope by Phone

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 5, 2001 ( On his own initiative, Iranian President Mohammed Khatami telephoned John Paul II to exchange ideas on the current world situation and the role that religions might have, following the terrorist attacks on the United States.

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Father Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Vatican Press Office, said that “in the course of the conversation, the importance and need for dialogue was emphasized, as an instrument of collaboration for building a world of justice and peace.”

In fact, it was the Iranian president who proposed to the United Nations that 2001 be proclaimed as the “International Year of Dialogue Between Civilizations.” John Paul II applauded the initiative and dedicated his message for World Day of Peace 2001 to this subject.

The Tehran Times reported that Khatami in his phone call stressed more Islam-Christianity cooperation.

The president was quoted as saying, “Although massacre of thousands of people in the United States is a human tragedy, the worst is that the event indicated a descent of morality and ethics in the contemporary world.”

Khatami called the world “in need of peace” adding that peace should be based on justice and friendship and affection can bring the world peace and justice.

He then called for a campaign against all kinds of terrorism with the participation of all religions, nations and countries. The Tehran newspaper said he also voiced Iran´s readiness to cooperate with the Vatican to find a true definition for terrorism.

He also warned that dubious moves are made to confront Islam, Christianity and the West, and said terrorist acts are far removed from the precepts of any religion, the Times reported.

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