NBC 5 News: Executive Director Comments on the Pope's Visit (TRANSCRIPT/VIDEO)

Warner Saunders: The Pontiff is trying to bridge cultural and religious gaps he’s also trying to diffuse tensions. NBC 5’s Charlie Wojciechowski has reactions from religious leaders right here.

Charlie Wojciechowski: Pope Benedict XVI arrival in Istanbul today marks his first visit to a Muslim country since his elevation. [crowd] The protest today, minor, compared to the uproar that followed a September speech in which the Pontiff quoted a Byzantine emperor’s disparaging remarks about Islam. Today during a meeting with Turkey’s chief cleric Benedict called upon all religious leaders to refuse the sanction the use of violence in the name of religion.

Ali Bardakoglu: The best way through war is by authentic dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

Wojciechowski: The Pope’s statements today are a positive step according to the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Ahmed Rehab: Now that he is extending an olive branch and visiting a Muslim majority country talking about brotherhood and collaboration between the two faiths I think that needs to be taken with the same fervor and excitement as his previous comments were shunned.

Wojciechowski: Among the pope’s goals for this trip are to promote brotherhood between faiths and religious freedom for all faiths.

Sister Joan Mcquire: The Pope has been reaching out very much to the Muslim community. He had the diplomatic core there, again it wasn’t a time when a lot of things were settled but it was a symbolic act to show that he wanted the relationship with the diplomats from the Muslim communities.

Wojciechowski: Sister Mcquire says this painting of saints Peter and Paul embracing should also serve as a symbol of the Pope’s other mission in Istanbul a meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew the spiritual leader of orthodox Christians.

Mcquire: It’s just to show that the world and show our communities that we do want to do whatever we can to bring the two churches together.

Wojciechowski: Both Francis Cardinal George and Metropolitan Iakovos of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis in Chicago have issued a joint statement saying they’re hopeful that the meeting between Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Benedict will influence the ties between their churches and add a profound impact on religious freedom

copyright © 2006, ABC7 News