Pope Benedict on Friday said the killing of a leading Catholic bishop in Turkey should not be allowed to hurt dialogue with Islam or stain the image of Turkey and its people.
The Pope is beginning a three day visit to the divided island of Cyprus.
Benedict spoke of his profound sadness over the stabbing on Thursday of Italian Bishop Luigi Padovese, a leading Catholic official in Turkey who was killed by his Turkish driver.
"We are still awaiting a full explanation but we don't want to mix up this tragic episode with Islam. It is a case apart which saddens us but should not be allowed to darken the dialogue (with Islam) in any way," Benedict said.
"We must not attribute this to Turkey or to Turks ... the certain thing is that it was not a political or religious assassination. It was a personal thing."
Turkish officials say Padovese, a proponent of dialogue with Islam, was killed by his driver, who they say had shown recent signs of mental instability.
"Despite our differences, Muslims are our brothers and we have to encourage a common vision of dialogue with them ...," he said.
The main purpose of the Pope's trip to Cyprus, in which Padovese was to have participated, is the release on Sunday of a working document for a synod of Catholic bishops from the Middle East to be held at the Vatican in October.
"I do not come with a political message but with a religious message that should better prepare people's sentiments to find an opening for peace," he said.
Turkey presented on Friday condolences to Italy and Pope over the killing of a Catholic bishop in a southern province.
Related news reports:Last Mod: 04 Haziran 2010, 15:23