Scripted Interreligious Encounter Sparks Spontaneous Remarks

April 18, 2008

Author: Regina Linskey

Source: Catholic Explorer/Catholic News Service

After Pope Benedict XVI addressed about 200 interreligious leaders at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington April 17, the scripted encounter with the pope turned into something resembling a town-hall meeting.

As scheduled after his official address in the cultural center's atrium, Pope Benedict personally greeted 10 representatives of the five main religions present. But when he went into a separate room to give Passover greetings to Jewish representatives, three Muslims and a couple of other interreligious leaders told the remaining audience what they said to the pope during their brief encounter with him.

Though the informal remarks were calm, the spontaneous scene startled those who had settled down after the pope left for the closed-door session with the Jews.