Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met Thursday with Pope Benedict XVI and sought to assure him that Christians and other religious minorities would have their rights guaranteed under Iraq's new constitution.
The Vatican has expressed concern about the constitution, which guarantees religious freedom for all but says Islam is "a fundamental source" of legislation for the country. The Vatican fears that any legal system based on Islamic law might not guarantee the rights of religious minorities.
"I explained to his Holiness that the Iraqi constitution will consider all Iraqis, Christians included, equal, and will respect all religions," Talabani said. "All kinds of freedoms will be guaranteed for all."
However, an Iraqi bishop present at Talabani's new conference questioned the president's assertions, saying the issue of religious freedom under the constitution was problematical.