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Egypt Islamic Authority Halts Dialogue With Vatican

The Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo
CAIRO -- Al-Azhar University, one of Sunni Islam's oldest universities and mosques, said today it was freezing all dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church over what it called Pope Benedict's repeated insults toward Islam.

Benedict this month condemned attacks on churches that killed dozens of people in Egypt, Iraq and Nigeria, saying they showed the need to adopt effective measures to protect religious minorities.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said today that al-Azhar's move would not change the Vatican's "policy of openness and desire for dialogue" with Islam.

compiled from agency reports