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Muslims, Vatican aim to prevent youth extremism

Seminar highlights religious leader’s responsibility

Pope Benedict XVI received a Muslim delegation on Wednesday that participated in a seminar focused on steering young people away from "religious radicalism."

The theme of the talks, involving the Catholic church and the Libya-based World Islamic Call Society, was "Responsibilities of Religious Leaders in Times of Crisis".

"Religious leaders have a special responsibility toward youth, who require particular attention so that they do not fall victim to religious fanaticism and radicalism," said a joint statement, issued after three days of talks at the Vatican.

The Vatican said the seminar also highlighted religious leaders' responsibility in preventing crises "of a diverse nature, especially religious".

They stressed the need for building confidence and trust to prevent inter-religious tension from turning violent.

"Religious leaders should learn to prevent, cope and remedy these particular situations, avoiding their degeneration into confessional violence," the statement said.

WICS members were visiting the Vatican for the 11th time since 1976.

The organization groups some 250 Muslim associations and carries out humanitarian, religious, cultural and social projects.

The Vatican maintains ties with several Muslim organizations around the world.

The most prominent recent initiative has been the creation of a Catholic-Muslim forum in response to a 2006 call for inter-faith by 138 Muslim intellectuals and religious figures.

The first forum, held at the Vatican in November, issued a joint call for religious freedom, non-violence and a fairer world.

Religious leaders should learn to prevent, cope and remedy these particular situations, avoiding their degeneration into confessional violence

Joint statement