Pope Benedict XVI urged Iranian authorities on Thursday to let Catholics have the priests and churches they need to freely practice their faith in the country.
In comments to Iran's new ambassador to the Holy See, Benedict also urged Teheran to improve the situation of all Christian minorities so they are better integrated into society.
Benedict did not mention international concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions in a speech accepting Ambassador Ali Akbar Naseri's credentials. But the ambassador referred to the issue, saying Teheran fully respected international norms but protested efforts to block its right to pursue a nuclear program for peaceful purposes.
The ambassador also complained to the pope about what he said was the increasing spread of "Islamophobia" in the West and boasted that Iran's presidential elections - sharply criticized internationally - showed that it embraced the principles of democracy.