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Pope brings optimism to region, says Iraqi prelate

September 14, 2012

The visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Lebanon is bringing a “sense of optimism” to the entire Middle East region, an Iraqi prelate told the AsiaNews service.

Archbishop Jean Benjamin Sleiman of Baghdad said that the papal visit will promote unity among the Christians of the region, and help ease tensions between Christians and Muslims. He remarked that the Vatican takes a serious approach to relations with the Islamic world, and the special Synod on the Middle East—whose work the Pope will conclude with the release of an apostolic exhortation—strongly encouraged friendly relations with Muslims.

In an obvious reference to the American-made movie Innocence of Muslims, which has sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world, Archbishop Sleiman said that “it is not in the Middle East that movies and acts that cause tensions are made." He added: “We are paying for people who think that freedom means doing whatever they want, humiliate or attack others.” While condemning violent reactions, the Iraqi prelate insisted that true freedom entails respect for others.


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