Pope Benedict XVI to hold religious peace summit

Pope Benedict XVI holds the aspersory as he celebrates a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Jan. 1, 2011 The summit will be held on the 25th anniversary of a similar event held by Pope John Paul

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Pope Benedict XVI has said he will organise a summit in Assisi with religious heads to discuss how they can promote world peace.

In a New Year message, the Pope also condemned inter-religious violence, including attacks against Christians in the Middle East.

The summit in the Italian city will be held in October, 25 years after Pope John Paul organised a similar event.

His announcement came hours after a bomb went off at a church in Egypt.

At least 17 people died in the blast at the Coptic Christian Church in the northern Egyptian city of Alexandria, sparking a clash between Christians and Muslims.

'Discrimination'

Speaking in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Pope Benedict said the aim of the summit would be to "to solemnly renew the effort of those with faith of all religions to live their faith as a service for the cause of peace".

"Facing the threatening tensions of the moment, especially discrimination, injustices and religious intolerance, which today strike Christians in a particular way, once again, I make a pressing appeal not to give in to discouragement and resignation," he said.

He said the summit would also "honour the memory of the historical event promoted by my predecessor".

Pope John Paul hosted a similar event in 1986, which was attended by leading Jews and Muslims, as well as the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Pope Benedict has repeatedly denounced attacks on Christians in Iraq, including an assault on a Baghdad cathedral in October which killed at least 50 people. The Vatican fears that the violence is driving many Christians out of the region.

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