Papal envoy visiting Iran
A Holy See diplomat celebrating Mass at a church in the Iranian capital Sunday delivered a message from Pope John Paul II to Iran's Christians, calling on them to "remain good and committed Christians."
Monsignor Jean-Louis Tauran, the highest ranking Vatican official to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, also said he would meet top Iranian leaders to "strengthen historical relations" between the Vatican and Iran.
"I'm happy to be with you as a representative of the Holy See to convey his greetings to you and his call on you to be and remain good and committed Christians as a small minority" in Iran, Tauran told about 250 people attending the Mass.
He was speaking in French at the Jeanne d'Arc church in downtown Tehran; his comments were translated into Persian by an interpreter.
Tauran, the Vatican's foreign minister, said he would meet Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Mohammad Khatami, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi and Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari during his five-day visit. He arrived in Tehran early on Sunday at the invitation of Iranian bishops and the Islamic Republic authorities.
"I'll discuss the situation in the Middle East, the situation of Christians in Iran and the level of freedom they enjoy and some other issues," Tauran told The Associated Press on Sunday.