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An ecumenical group of religious leaders from Hiroshima and Nagasaki met with Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday during a visit to Vatican City to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.

The meeting with the 30-member group took place during one of the pope’s audiences Wednesday with the general public.

Ten years ago, during the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombings, religious representatives from the two cities paid a visit to the late Pope John Paul II.

Representing the group, Mitsuaki Takami, archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Nagasaki, told the pope that the religious leaders, regardless of their affiliations, have been praying together for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

After being presented with letters from the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the pope said he was happy to meet with people who promote interfaith dialogue.

The group consists of 25 people from Nagasaki, including Chitoshi Noshita, a Catholic priest, and five others from a religious federation in Hiroshima Prefecture, including Gene Nakagawa, a monk from the Buddhist Jodo Shinshu sect.

Before heading home, the group is also scheduled to visit the town of Assisi, a religious center for interchurch dialogue.

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