VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI told Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of the discrimination and violence Catholics suffer in the Mideast and said he hopes relations between the local churches and authorities can improve.
The Vatican released the text of a letter Benedict wrote Ahmadinejad after receiving a letter from the Iranian leader last month. Ahmadinejad had thanked the pontiff for opposing a Florida pastor's threat to burn the Koran on the Sept. 11 anniversary.
In his letter, dated Nov. 3 but released only Thursday, Benedict noted that a recent meeting of Mideast bishops had decried the discrimination many Catholics face in the region. He said he hoped a bilateral commission would help address the legal status of the Catholic Church in Iran.