JOHN PAUL II has encouraged Catholics living in countries with Islamic majorities to promote dialogue with their Muslim brothers and to be signs of God's love through aid to the needy.
Meeting the bishops of the Regional Episcopal Conference of North Africa last weekend, the Pope said that interreligious dialogue must be continued with patience and determination to overcome mutual mistrust and learn to serve together the common good of humanity.
The bishops of the Maghreb were concluding their ad lirnina visit to the Holy See. Archbishop Henri Teissier of Algiers addressed the Holy Father on behalf of the episcopal conference.
Addressing the bishops of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, the Pope noted the quality of relations between Christians and the Muslim populations of these countries.
He said: "All this is possible thanks to reciprocal knowledge, daily meetings of life and exchanges, particularly with families.
"Continue to encourage these meetings as a priority day after day. They contribute to the evolution of mentalities on both sides and help to overcome preconceived images that the media still present all too frequently."
Catholics in Algeria have suffered a number of killings, including those of seven Trappists at the monastery of Our Lady of the Atlas and of Bishop Pierre Claverie of Oran.