2010-11-26 15:55:14

Pakistani president receives Cardinal Tauran

(November 26, 2010) Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday met a top Vatican official in Islamabad and emphasized the need for genuine cooperation and understanding among people of different faiths to neutralize elements that create misperceptions. Zardari received Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, the president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue at the presidential palace. Among those present at the meeting was Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic and Federal Minister for Minorities. President Zardari said that the call for dialogue among civilizations was more powerful than the idea of their possible clash. Bigotry needs to be discouraged with a joint effort by promoting and fostering genuine cooperation and greater understanding, he said. Cardinal Tauran thanked the President for the meeting and appreciated the efforts of the government for the welfare of minorities in the country. The prelate’s Pakistani visit comes amid a row over the death sentence handed to Catholic woman, Asia Bibi, for blaspheming the Prophet Mohammed, an allegation she denies. Pope Benedict XVI on Nov. 17 appealed for Christians in Pakistan who he said are “often victims of violence or discrimination.” He particularly expressed his closeness with Asia Bibi and her family and urged that her full freedom be restored as soon as possible. On Tuesday Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone also appealed for the release of Asia Bibi. Commening on the sidelines of the inauguration of the new academic year of Rome’s Lateran University, Cardinal Bertone said that both the Vatican and numerous countries have urged for the repeal of the infamous blasphemy laws of Pakistan that are often abused to settle personal scores.

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