Pope Refers to Rights and Dialogue as He Meets Iranian

Receives Foreign Minister Kharrazi in Audience

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 12, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II spoke of the rights and dignity of the human person and the promotion of interreligious dialogue when he met Iran’s Foreign Minister in audience.

Kamal Kharrazi’s visit, in the context of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations, made possible an examination of the present relations between the Holy See and Iran, the director of the Vatican press office, Joaquín Navarro-Valls, said in a statement issued shortly after the meeting.

During today’s audience with the Pope, as well as in Kharrazi’s subsequent meeting with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, reference was made «to the situation of the Catholic Church» in the Islamic republic, the statement said.

Special attention also was paid to «collaboration between the Holy See and Iran in the realm of interreligious dialogue, the promotion of peace and other international questions on which there is a coincidence of points of view,» the brief Vatican statement noted.

The Holy Father told his Iranian visitor: «Your presence here is a sign of the cooperation that, for more than 50 years now, has marked the official relations between the Holy See and your country.»

«I am confident that this spirit of collaboration will continue to grow ever stronger as we address issues of mutual concern to us,» he said.

Among these issues is the «ongoing commitment to safeguard the inalienable rights and dignity of the human person, especially in efforts aimed at promoting greater understanding among peoples of different religions, cultural and ethnic backgrounds,» the Pontiff added.

The 4th Islamic-Christian Colloquium took place at the Vatican on Nov. 29-Dec. 2, with the participation of eight delegates from Iran, including Ayatollah Mahmud Mohammadi Araghi, president of the Organization for Islamic Culture and Communication.

The participants were received by John Paul II, who said at the time: «The holy name of God must never be used to incite violence or terrorism, to promote hatred or exclusion.»

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