Dalai Lama Says Sorry He Can't Meet Pope

December 13th 2007

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama smiles as he arrives for a three-day teaching event called
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama smiles as he arrives for a three-day teaching event called 'The way toward Inner Peace' in Milan December 7, 2007. (REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo)

Milan, Italy, 7 December 2007 (Reuters) - The Dalai Lama said on Friday he was sorry he could not see Pope Benedict during a 10-day visit to Italy in which most politicians have shied away from meeting him.

China sees the Dalai Lama's world wanderings as a serious diplomatic offence and the Chinese ambassador to Italy called on politicians not to meet the Dalai Lama, local media have said.

The Tibetan spiritual leader expressed his esteem for the head of the Catholic Church, recalling that the destination of his first visit to Europe, in 1973, was Italy, precisely because it was home to the Pope.

But the Vatican has ruled out any meetings with the head of the Catholic Church this time around.

'In the past, every time I came to Italy I met (the Pope). This time the Pope has had some difficulties ... I am sorry about it,' the Dalai Lama, 72, told Italian daily La Repubblica, adding he missed former Pope John Paul II very much.

Pope Benedict, who has made improving ties with China a goal of his pontificate, had a strictly private meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader in October last year.

'I have met Pope (Joseph) Ratzinger once. He told me how important it is to reconcile faith and reason, a wonderful thing,' the Dalai Lama said.

The Dalai Lama arrived in Milan on December 5 and will also visit Udine, Rome and Turin. So far only the head of the northern region of Lombardy has accepted to meet him at an official level with no meetings scheduled at government level.

Braving the winter cold, the Dalai Lama appeared on Friday at the Lombardy region headquarters wearing his trademark purple-and-orange gown and flip-flops to meet President Roberto Formigoni.

As the Beijing 2008 Olympics near, the Dalai Lama has been racking up air miles to meet western leaders.

This year he met U.S. President George W. Bush and the leaders of Austria, Germany, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

When asked about Chinese comments while on his way to meet thousands of Italian followers, the Dalai Lama told reporters: 'They have the freedom to say what they want.'

'It's absolutely wrong to isolate China and people have the moral responsibility to bring China into the world community,' he also said.

'But in certain principles you should be firm, although within an atmosphere of genuine friendship.'

 

Latest News

His Holiness Expresses Condolences to the People of Taiwan
February 6th 2016
Rochester, Minnesota, USA, 6 February 2016 - In a letter to Taiwanese President Ma Ying-Jeou, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his sadness on learning of the powerful earthquake that struck Tainan, Taiwan. He conveyed his heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased and prayers for the well-being of those who were injured or lost their homes. As a mark of his sympathy and solidarity with the people of Taiwan, he is making a token donation towards the relief and rescue work. His Holiness also requested fellow Buddhists to recite The Heart Sutra for the people of Taiwan.

Notice
January 19th 2016

His Holiness the Dalai Lama Congratulates Taiwanese President-Elect
January 17th 2016

His Holiness the Dalai Lama Offers Condolences to Ms Mehbooba Mufti
January 8th 2016

Celebrating His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Delhi in his 80th Year
January 5th 2016

Explore