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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI has taken a new step in engaging with the public, fielding questions on Italian TV during a Good Friday broadcast and telling a 7-year-old Japanese girl her suffering wasn't in vain and a Muslim woman in the Ivory Coast that peace must prevail.
Benedict was responding to questions submitted over the last few weeks by the general public via state-run RAI television's website, part of the Vatican's new push to engage with the world online and through Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
It was hardly a casual or spontaneous chat with the general public, however. Seven questions were selected from the thousands that poured in, and Benedict recorded the answers on April 15 from behind his desk inside the Apostolic Palace.
He seemed a bit stiff, sitting alone in a big white chair in front of a TV camera while an unseen interviewer read out the letters to him. But the teacher and pastor in Benedict came through as he fielded the questions, which all dealt with suffering and Jesus' death, which Christians recall on Good Friday, and his resurrection which they celebrate on Easter Sunday.
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