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Pope will not meet with Dalai Lama

November 27, 2007

Catholic World News
Vatican, Nov. 26, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) 
will not meet with the Dalai Lama when the Tibetan Buddhist leader 
visits Rome in December, the Vatican has announced.

The announcement contradicts reports that had circulated early in 
November and sparked angry reactions from Beijing.

Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, 
told reporters that "no audience is planned" during the Dalai Lama's 
trip to Italy. The Vatican had never officially announced plans for 
such an audience, although informed officials had told reporters that 
a meeting was being planned.

Reports that the Dalai Lama would meet with the Pontiff drew a strong 
reaction from the Chinese government, which warned that any such 
meeting would be "an offense." A government spokesman in Beijing said 
that the Vatican should "show sincerity to improve relations" by 
abandoning the plans.

The Chinese regime has consistently objected to any meetings by world 
leaders with the Dalai Lama, who is regarded as a key symbol of 
Tibet's hope for freedom from Beijing. The Dalai Lama has frequently 
expressed his opposition to Chinese occupation of his country-- 
although he has dropped his public demands for Tibetan independence. 
He has lived in exile since 1959.

The Vatican has been engaged for months in delicate negotiations with 
Beijing, aimed to ease government controls on the Catholic Church in 
China. While Pope Benedict has directly challenged the Communist 
government's claim to authority over the Church-- most notably in his 
June 30 message to Chinese Catholics-- he has generally avoided 
clashes on matters that the Holy See does not consider essential to 
the Church's mission.

The Pope met with the Dalai Lama in October 2006, but the Vatican 
underlined that the meeting was a "private courtesy visit" and the 
conversation was confined exclusively to religious matters. That 
papal audience with the Buddhist leader did not appear on the 
official Vatican calendar.
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