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Benedict XVI to Meet With Muslims in Cologne

Expressly Asked to Add the Encounter to Agenda

LES COMBES, Italy, JULY 24, 2005 ( Benedict XVI is intent on dialoging with Muslim believers during his trip to Cologne for World Youth Day, affirmed the Vatican spokesman.

Speaking today from the Alpine village where the Pope is spending his summer vacation, Joaquín Navarro Valls, director of the Vatican press office, disclosed that the Bishop of Rome has expressly asked that a meeting with representatives of the Muslim communities of Cologne be added to the program of his trip to Germany in August.

"He really wanted this meeting," Navarro Valls said. "He wanted to introduce it into the trip's program, together with the visit to the synagogue. It is a strong sign. It is a desire to continue the dialogue between the great monotheist religions that make reference to Abraham."

"There is a double continuity in this, not only with John Paul II's line, but with that which extends over 20 centuries of Christianity," the Vatican spokesman stated.

Asked if the Pope was stimulating dialogue with Islam with the same force with which he promotes dialogue with Judaism, Navarro Valls said that it is necessary to wait, before making judgments, as Benedict XVI's pontificate has just begun.

The Pope's meeting with Muslim communities in Germany will take place on Saturday, Aug. 20, at the headquarters of the archbishopric of Cologne.

On Aug. 19, Benedict XVI will make the second visit of a modern Pope to a synagogue when he visits the synagogue of Cologne. John Paul II visited the synagogue of Rome in 1986.


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