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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Pope calls for end to violence in Tibet

March 20, 2008

Agence France-Presse
03/19/2008

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI called for an end to violence in Tibet
on Wednesday, urging "dialogue and tolerance" in his first remarks on
the unrest there.

"Violence does not resolve problems, it only aggravates them," the pope
told thousands of pilgrims at his weekly general audience in St Peter's
Square.

The pope said he had been following events in Tibet "with great
trepidation" and urged all sides "to have the courage to choose the path
of dialogue and tolerance".

China, which has deployed a massive security force to quash an uprising
in Tibet, said Wednesday it was in a "life or death struggle" over the
region it has ruled for 57 years.

Rioting in the Tibetan capital Lhasa has left 13 dead according to an
official toll, while Tibetans in exile say scores if not hundreds have
been killed in Tibet and other regions where anti-Beijing protests have
broken out.

Italian media had earlier questioned the pope's silence on China's
crackdown, speculating that the pontiff probably did not want to
antagonize Beijing, with which relations have long been strained.

The Italian Roman Catholic church's SIR news agency said the pope's
silence was not a "blunder" but "linked to the problem of having an
already difficult dialogue with Beijing" over the religious freedom of
Roman Catholics in China.

Beijing severed ties with the Vatican in 1951 in anger at the Holy See's
diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, which Beijing views as a renegade
province.

In 1957, the split became permanent when China set up the Patriotic
Association to formally oversee the country's officially registered
Catholics.

The Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and the pope met in October
2006, but an initially scheduled meeting in December was cancelled, in a
decision that Italian media reports said facilitated the recent
ordination of a new bishop in Guangdong, southern China, with the
Vatican's approval.

The Dalai Lama had eight meetings with Benedict's long-serving
predecessor John Paul II.
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