Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami met Pope Benedict XVI on Friday for talks the Vatican hoped would help heal tensions left from the pope's remarks on Islam and violence, but the Iranian said the wounds were still very deep.
Khatami, a reformist in power from 1997 to 2005, had been scheduled to meet with Benedict in October but the meeting was canceled. No reason was given, but it was just weeks after Benedict's speech in Germany about Islam touched off protests across the Muslim world.
On Friday, the two men spoke about the importance of "a serene dialogue between cultures intended to overcome the grave tensions that mark our times," the Vatican said in a statement after Khatami's 30-minute meeting with Benedict.
But visiting a Catholic university in Rome before going into the talks, Khatami said that "unfortunately the wounds of this world are very deep and they cannot be healed easily and a single meeting may not be enough," the ANSA news agency quoted him as responding to a question about Benedict's speech.
Relations between Muslims and Christians were badly strained after Benedict quoted a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed as "evil and inhuman," particularly "his command to spread by the sword the faith."
Benedict expressed regret that the citation offended Muslims. As a sign of improved relations, Benedict made a successful visit to predominantly Muslim Turkey in November.
It was Khatami's second meeting with a pope, following an audience with Pope John Paul II in 1999, two years after the Iranian had taken office.
In visiting Rome, he was not representing the Iranian government, although the Vatican clearly attached importance to the talks. It issued an official statement on the meeting with the pope and separate talks with top Vatican officials and released photos of the papal audience.
Khatami later met with Italian Premier Romano Prodi at his office in central Rome.
Earlier in Rome, addressing an academic gathering at the Pontifical Gregorian University, he said that dialogue between Islam and Christianity must concentrate on a "sincere and practical commitment" to "eliminate terrorism and the great military conflicts."
"We cannot and must not use the name of God, the name of all perfection and generosity and beauty and truth, as a password for war and hate," he said.
The Vatican statement said the two men also took up a subject of pressing concern for the Church -- the conditions of the Christian community in Iran and across the Middle East. The statement also called for "strong initiatives by the international community" to set up serious negotiations, citing as an example this week's international conference on Iraq in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
BEYOND CULTURE: The US State Department was expected to announce that the Chinese government-funded institutes would have to register as foreign missions US President Donald Trump’s administration is increasing scrutiny of a long-established Chinese-government funded program that is dedicated to teaching Chinese language and culture in the US and other nations, the latest escalation of tensions with Beijing. The US Department of State was expected to announce as soon as yesterday that Confucius Institutes in the US — many of which are based on college campuses — would have to register as “foreign missions,” according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified. The designation would amount to a conclusion that the institutes are “substantially owned or effectively controlled” by