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Pope calls Burma Bishops to interreligious dialogue

John Paul II has urged a visiting delegation of bishops from Burma to promote interreligious dialogue.

The charity Aid to the Church in Need says the military government officially promotes interreligious dialogue, but in practice is responsible for the violence and discrimination suffered by the religious minorities, especially the Christian and Muslim.

Christians and Muslims have serious difficulties in obtaining permits to construct buildings for worship, and to print or import translations of sacred texts, the report states.

In his farewell address to the bishops on Saturday, John Paul II said, "Burma is a land where the Church in her early years knew martyrdom, and still today lives close to the cross of the Saviour."

"The cross is the source of our hope and certainty: For every grace that enlightens and strengthens human hearts flows from the wounded side of the crucified Lord," the Pope added.

Among the difficulties facing Catholics and many Burmese are "widespread poverty, despite the abundant resources of the land, and limits placed on fundamental rights and freedoms," the Holy Father said.

"These problems are in many ways aggravated by isolation, which is all the more harmful when interaction between peoples and between nations is increasing and growing more complex by the day," he added.

The bishops were in Rome for their ad limina visit.