Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI met Wednesday a high-level Iranian Shiite Muslim delegation visiting the Vatican for bi-lateral talks on the theme "Faith and Reason in Christianity and Islam". Benedict was "particularly satisfied with the choice of the theme and the venue of the meeting," both sides said in a joint statement issued afterwards.
The Vatican and the eight-man delegation from Iran's Islamic Culture and Relations Organization, said in the statement that in talks that preceded the meeting with the pontiff, they had "agreed" on several issues.
Some of these are apparently related to recent controversies between Catholics and Muslims, including remarks made in 2006 by Benedict in Regensburg, Germany, when he appeared to associate Islam to irrational thought and violence.
"Faith and reason do not contradict each other, but faith might in some cases be above reason, but never against it," the statement said.
Both sides also agreed that "faith and reason are intrinsically non-violent".
"Neither reason nor faith should be used by violence; unfortunately, both of them have been sometimes misused to perpetrate violence," the statement said.
Another point appeared to touch on the Vatican's demands that Muslim-majority nations allow followers of other faiths religious freedom, as well as a row over satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published in the West.
"Christians and Muslims should go beyond tolerance, accepting differences, while remaining aware of commonalities and thanking God for them. They are called for mutual respect, thereby condemning derision of religious beliefs," the statement said.
The two sides also agreed that religions should not be judged on selective interpretations of texts taken from their holy books, but that they should be interpreted according to a "holistic view".
During the talks which began in Rome on Monday the Vatican delegation was led by the Holy See's top inter-faith dialogue official, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, while the Iranian delegation was headed by Mahdi Mostafavi, president of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization.
"Both Iran and the Vatican have religious governments, so there are many issues the two states have in common, such as morality," M. Anvarian, spokesman for Iran's Embassy to Vatican, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa, earlier Wednesday.
The visit marks the sixth round of such talks between the Islamic Republic and the Holy See on religious issues since 1996, the embassy spokesman said.
The next round of bilateral talks between the Holy See and the Islamic Republic would be held in 2010 in Tehran.
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