Pope won't meet Dalai Lama during visit to Italy

26th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

26 November 2007, Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI will not meet the Dalai Lama during the Tibetan Buddhist leader's visit to Italy next month, a Vatican spokesman said Monday.

26 November 2007

Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI will not meet the Dalai Lama during the Tibetan Buddhist leader's visit to Italy next month, a Vatican spokesman said Monday.

Italian news reports citing unidentified Vatican sources earlier this month said the two religious leaders would meet at the Vatican on December 13.

The reports provoked a swift and angry response from China with Beijing's foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao saying that such meeting would be "offensive" to the Chinese people.

But on Monday Vatican deputy chief spokesman Ciro Benedettini told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that no meeting between Benedict and the Dalai Lama was scheduled. He did not elaborate further.

In an article published Monday in the Rome-based daily La Repubblica, the newspaper's Vatican expert Marco Politi wrote that the Vatican's decision was likely prompted by pressure from Beijing.

Relations between the Vatican and communist China have been strained for decades by Beijing's insistence that the official Patriotic Catholic Association has the right to appoint bishop's without Rome's approval.

But in September the Vatican's decision to approve China's choice for bishop of the official church's southern diocese of Guizhou was widely seen as a warming of ties.

The move followed a letter sent by Benedict to Chinese bishops in which he called for dialogue with Chinese authorities and for religious freedom for China's Catholic minority.

"Current Vatican prudence depends on the very delicate phase of the relations between the pope and the Chinese authorities," Politi wrote in Repubblica on Monday

Benedict and the Dalai Lama held talks in the Vatican in October 2006 in what was then described as a strictly private meeting.

China recently halted a series of top-level contacts with Germany following a September 23 meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Dalai Lama in Berlin.

Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama - who fled to India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against the occupation of Tibet by Chinese troops since 1951 - of separatism.

DPA

Subject: German news

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