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Papal greetings to interreligious meeting in Japan

VATICAN CITY (Agencies): “The commitment to the cause of peace by religious leaders is of the greatest importance and I am happy to learn that, thanks to your efforts, the Summit on Mount Hiei has become a major annual event that contributes effectively to dialogue between people of different beliefs,” Pope Benedict XVI said in an August 3 message to the Venerable Kojun Handa, supreme priest of the Tendai Buddhist Denomination, on the occasion the 25th annual interreligious gathering at Mt. Hiei in Japan.

The pope describes the gathering as taking place in the “spirit of the 1986 historic meeting in Assisi promoted by my predecessor, Blessed John Paul II.”

The theme of this year’s summit among members of different faiths lived in Japan is on the religious response to both natural and man-made disasters.

“According to the Christian perspective, the love given to those who suffer is a reflection of the divine charity of God, who so loved the world that he sent his only Son Jesus Christ,” the pope says.

“In this sense, my mind turns to the earthquake and tsunami in north-east Japan last year and the harrowing consequences for the whole nation. It was heartening to learn of the effective role of religious leaders in offering hope and support, as well as counsel and solace, to all those suffering,” he continues.

Pope Benedict reflects that the tragedy “shows how people of different beliefs can cooperate with one another for the good of the human person.”

The bishop of Rome concludes his message with a pledge of goodwill and friendship, and invokes divine blessings upon all the participants.

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