Benedict XVI Greets Religion Summit

Two-day Event Gathered 80 Religious Leaders

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 17, 2009 ( Benedict XVI underlined the important role religion plays in the fabric of society in greeting a gathering of more than 80 religious leaders.

The two-day event, organized by the Italian bishops’ conference in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is a parallel summit on religion held ahead of the Group of Eight meeting to take place July 8-10 in L’Aquila, Italy.

The Pope greeted the leaders at the end today’s weekly audience: “I am confident that [the summit] will do much to draw the attention of world political leaders to the importance of religions within the social fabric of every society, and to the grave duty to ensure that their deliberations and policies support and uphold the common good.”

The meeting addressed some of the G-8’s main issues for 2009, including the availability of water, the right to food, health, education, peace and security. They dedicated special attention to Africa and to the situation of the global economy.

The religious summit began Tuesday with a visit to L’Aquila, which was affected by an earthquake last April.

The participants were also received by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, who urged “a reestablishment of the spiritual and moral values that have [lately] remained in a great part absent” in the decision-making process of world economic and political leaders.

Religion, he added, has “a public dimension and a public value.”

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