Saudi king meets Pope in historic visit

6th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

6 November 2007, Vatican City (dpa) - Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah on Tuesday met Pope Benedict XVI in the first visit to the Vatican by a Saudi monarch who carries the Islamic title of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The meeting took place in "a cordial atmosphere" and focused on "the commitment to inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue aimed at fruitful co-existence between individuals and peoples" the Vatican said in a statement. "The importance of collaboration between Christians, Muslims and J

6 November 2007

Vatican City (dpa) - Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah on Tuesday met Pope Benedict XVI in the first visit to the Vatican by a Saudi monarch who carries the Islamic title of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.

The meeting took place in "a cordial atmosphere" and focused on "the commitment to inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue aimed at fruitful co-existence between individuals and peoples" the Vatican said in a statement.

"The importance of collaboration between Christians, Muslims and Jews for the promotion of peace, justice and spiritual and moral values, especially in support of the family" was reiterated during the talks, the statement added.

Television images showed Benedict grasping in greeting both the hands of Abdullah at the start of their meeting.

The two met for about 30 minutes during which Abdullah gifted the pope a golden sword encrusted with precious stones while Benedict presented the king with a medallion and a 16th century etching depicting the Vatican, news reports said.

Abdullah later held a separate meeting with Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti - who respectively act as the Holy See's prime and foreign ministers.

"The Vatican authorities expressed their hope for the prosperity of all the inhabitants of the country (Saudi Arabia), and mention was made of the positive and industrious presence of Christians," the Vatican statement said.

"Finally, views were exchanged on the situation in the Middle East and on the need to find a just solution to the conflicts affecting the region, especially that between Israelis and Palestinians," the statement concluded.

The Vatican has formal diplomatic ties with several Islamic states, but not with Saudi Arabia where the issue of religious freedom remains a sticking point.

Saudi authorities prohibit any form of religious expression by non-Muslims, many of whom are foreign workers from Asia and have frequently arrested people for offences such as carrying a Christian Bible or holding a group prayer session, even when this takes place in a private home.

No non-Muslim places of worship, such as churches, are permitted in Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam's holiest cities, Mecca and Medina.

Tuesday's meeting came just weeks after 138 Muslim clerics and intellectuals in a letter to Benedict and other Christian leaders, urged greater understanding and respect between Muslims and Christians.

Benedict drew protests from Muslims around the world last year when in a speech at a university in his native Germany he appeared to link Islam to violence.

The row was quelled somewhat when the pontiff later said his words had been misinterpreted.

DPA

Subject: German news

0 Comments To This Article