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Pope Francis

Pope embraces Al-Azhar imam in sign of renewed relations

Pope Francis on Monday embraced the grand imam of Al-Azhar, the prestigious Sunni Muslim center of learning, reopening an important channel for Catholic-Muslim dialogue after a five-year lull and at a time of increased Islamic extremist attacks on Christians.

As Sheik Ahmed el-Tayyib arrived for his audience in the Apostolic Palace, Francis said that the fact that they were meeting at all was significant.

"The meeting is the message," Francis told the imam.

The meeting came five years after the Cairo-based Al-Azhar froze talks with the Vatican to protest comments by then-Pope Benedict XVI.

Benedict had demanded greater protection for Christians in...

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