Pope says tourism should help cultures bridge gaps

Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday that tourism should help different cultures bridge gaps and promote dialogue between the world's different people.

Wednesday was World Tourism Day, and the pontiff made the remarks before about 30,000 pilgrims and tourists gathered in a sunny St. Peter's Square to attend his weekly general audience.

"I hope that tourism will increasingly promote dialogue and respect between cultures, thereby becoming an open door to peace and harmonious cohabitation," Benedict said.

His words came two days after Benedict met with Muslim envoys at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo in an attempt to end anger in the Islamic world caused by his recent remarks on holy war.

In that meeting, Benedict has told the Muslim ambassadors that the two faiths must overcome any historic enmities and together reject violence, since the future of humanity is at stake, reports AP.

Benedict angered the Muslim world when he quoted in a speech during a trip to Germany words attributed to a 14th century Byzantine emperor: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

Benedict has expressed regret for offending Muslims by his remarks and said they did not reflect his personal views, but he has not offered a complete apology as some had sought.

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