04/17/2007, 00.00
VATICAN - IRAN
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Nuncio in Iran: “Khatami to visit the Pope, a positive sign of dialogue and coexistence”

Vatican diplomat msgr. Angelo Mottola, tells AsiaNews that the planned meeting between the former Iranian president and Benedict XVI will take place in private, but that it represents a strong signal for inter religious dialogue and civil coexistence in Iran. Khatami was among Muslim leaders who sought to calm the waters following the controversial Regensburg address.

Teheran (AsiaNews) – The ex Iranian President’s visit to the Vatican and his meeting with the Pope “is certainly a positive step, which will help dialogue between religions and the promotion of a civil coexistence in the country”, Apostolic Nuncio to Teheran, msgr. Angelo Mottola, told AsiaNews following the announcement of a proposed meeting between Benedict XVI and the Iranian exponent on May 4th

 The appointment had been scheduled to take place November last, but as the Vatican diplomat explains, “it was annulled because of the international situation at the time [the Muslim world’s reaction to the Pope’s Regensburg address]. It is very positive that it has been put on the agenda again”.

Ayatollah Khatami, who had previously met with John Paul II, was among the first to calm the waters following the anti-catholic controversy created in the aftermath of the Popes words.  The Iranian political leader in fact invited the Muslim community to “read Benedict XVI’s text before judging it”.  His position even influenced his successor’s stance on the issue, president Ahmadinejad, who asked for an “Islamic theological analysis” of the papal document before committing himself to comments on it.  

His meeting with Benedict XVI, is not the only appointment on Khatami’s agenda during his visit to the Holy See and Italy from May 3rd to 10th: he is also due to participate in a conference on “Intercultural dialogue: a challenge for peace”, promoted by Anastasis association, “La Gregoriana” foundation, of the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Iranian embassy to the Holy See.   

Also intervening in the conference, due to take place between May 3rd and 4th in the Aula Magna of the Gregorian’s Matteo Ricci conference centre; Islam scholar Jesuit father  Samir Khalil Samir, Philosopher Emanuele Severino, sociologist  Khaled Fouad Allam and theologian msgr. Piero Coda.

Before his departure the ex President is also due to visit a few Italian diocese among them Cassino, Naples, Palermo, Milan and Bertinoro (Forlì).

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