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Pope to Muslim leaders: denounce terror

POPE FRANCIS called on leaders across the Muslim world to condemn violence committed in the name of Islam during a press conference on his flight home from Turkey.

The Pope said he told Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday that “it would be beautiful if all Islamic leaders – whether they be political leaders, religious leaders, academic leaders – would say clearly that they condemn [terrorism], because that will help the majority of Islamic people to say, that’s true, and show non-Muslims that Islam is a religion of peace.

“I sincerely believe that you cannot say that all Muslims are terrorists just as you cannot say that all Christians are fundamentalists; every religion has these little groups,” the Pope said during a press conference after his three-day trip.

Pope Francis also said that during a televised moment of silent prayer in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque on Saturday alongside the city’s grand mufti: “I prayed for Turkey, I prayed for the mufti, I prayed for myself because I need it, and I prayed

Pope Francis told journalists on the papal plane that every religion has ‘little groups’ of fundamentalists

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above all for the peace and an end to war.”

On the family synod, meanwhile, the Pope said it was not a parliament but an “ecclesial space where the Holy Spirit can work” and was part of a process to be continued until the October 2015 worldwide synod on the same subject.

On relations between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches, the Pope said that, despite difficulties, he was ready to meet the Patriarch of Moscow as soon as the patriarch wishes to invite him.

The Pope also said he would like to have visited a refugee camp but that security concerns had prevented him.

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Francis meets Syrian and Iraqi refugees in cathedral

POPE FRANCIS met young refugees from Syria and Iraq on Sunday, a few hours after joining Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople to denounce the plight of Christians there.

“The degrading conditions in which so many refugees are forced to live are intolerable,” the Pope told about 100 young refugees in Istanbul in the Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Spirit. “We must do everything possible to eradicate the causes of this situation.”

Addressing the refugees, who included Christians and Muslims, Pope Francis reiterated his appreciation for Turkey’s acceptance of refugees from neighbouring lands – an estimated 1.6 million from Syria alone. He appealed for “greater international co-operation to resolve the conflicts which are causing bloodshed in your homelands”.

Earlier in the day, the Pope joined Patriarch Bartholomew, considered first among equals by Orthodox bishops, in signing a joint declaration that said: “We cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians.”

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