Pope encourages Iran's Catholics to persevere patiently
Published: January 16, 2009
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI encouraged Iran's tiny Catholic communities to be patient and persistent as they try to improve relations with the government and ensure a continued Christian presence in the Islamic republic. He also called on the "vast and beautiful country" to contribute to "the common good and peace among nations," particularly in the Middle East. Iran's four Armenian, Chaldean and Latin-rite Catholic bishops met the pope Jan. 16 at the end of their "ad limina" visits to report on the status of their dioceses. Pope Benedict said that in order to overcome some of the concrete difficulties Iranian Catholics face, including providing enough priests to minister to the country's scattered Catholic communities, "the establishment of a bilateral commission with your government is being considered." Such a commission, he said, also could be a channel "to develop relations and mutual understanding between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Catholic Church."
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