Saudi King Meets the Pope

King Abdullah travels to the Vatican on his European tour
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2007 9:00 AM CST
Pope Benedict XVI welcomes Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah at the Vatican, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2007. Pope Benedict XVI, who riled Muslims over his comments on Islam and violence, met for the first time Tuesday...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah visited with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican today—the first official meeting of any pope with a reigning Saudi monarch. The visit comes as relations are improving between the Vatican and the Muslim world, the BBC reports. Still, the pontiff was expected to press Abdullah on allowing Christians in Saudi Arabia to worship more freely.

About a million Catholics live in the kingdom, but they are banned from worshiping publicly or displaying religious symbols. "The most important thing is to get the possibility to gather in freedom and security for our worship, our masses and our activities," says one bishop. Benedict is not Abdullah's first papal experience; he also met John Paul II when he was still crown prince.