Pope, Tanzanian president discuss pacification

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete held talks on pacification in central Africa and the importance of Christian-Muslim cooperation.

The pope and the Tanzanian president met for 15 minutes of private discussions Oct. 19. Afterward, Kikwete held separate talks with the Vatican’s top foreign affairs officials.

A Vatican statement said the talks touched on Tanzania’s role in working out peace agreements among the Great Lakes countries of central Africa. Kikwete recently hosted a one-day summit to ease tensions along the Uganda-Congo border, where the discovery of oil has generated a dispute.

The Vatican said the talks also focused on “the importance of peaceful coexistence and collaboration between believers of all religions, in particular between Christians and Muslims.”

Kikwete, a Muslim, has promoted interfaith cooperation in Tanzania, where the population is about one-third Muslim, one-third Christian and one-third followers of indigenous beliefs.

The Vatican pledged the church’s continuing support in areas of health care, education and social assistance, underlining that such church-run programs benefit all Tanzanians.

The Tanzanian president gave the pontiff an unusual gift at the end of the audience – an ebony table with an inlaid chessboard, decorated with carved giraffes and other animals of Africa.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.