Pope wants Iran to give more freedom to Catholics

|PIC1|Pope Benedict XVI has called upon Iran to give greater freedom to Christians to practice their faith.

Receiving Iran’s new ambassador to the Holy See at the Vatican on Thursday, the Pope described the country as a “great nation with eminent spiritual traditions” but also appealed for the “essential conditions” to allow Catholics to live in Iran.

“The Holy See is confident that the Iranian authorities will strengthen and ensure the freedom of Christians to profess their faith, and ensure the Catholic community the conditions essential for its existence, including the possibility of having adequate facilities and a religious personnel free to travel in the country to service the pastoral needs of the faithful,” he said.

Faith in one God, he said, called for “collaboration in the promotion of fundamental human values”.

“Belief in one God must bring all believers together and motivate them to work for the defence and promotion of fundamental human values,” he said.

The Pope went on to tell Ambassador Ali Akbar Naseri of his “hope for an opening and a close collaboration with the international community”.

“Today we must all hope and support a new phase of international cooperation, based more firmly on humanitarian principles and on concrete aid to those who suffer, less dependent on cold calculations of exchanges and technical and economic benefits,” he said.

In a meeting with members of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications on Thursday, the Pope said the Church must learn how to use new media to communicate the message of the Gospel to new generations.

“I want to take this occasion to ask those in the church who work in the sphere of communications and have responsibility for pastoral guidance to take up the challenges these new technologies pose for evangelisation,” said the Pope.

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Tom Wright, has invited the Pope to visit the north east of England and speak at Durham Cathedral when he visits the UK in 2010. It would be his first visit to the region if he accepts.