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Vatican meeting of world's bishops urges intensified outreach to Muslims

The world's Catholic bishops have called for intensified outreach to Muslims, saying dialogue is difficult but must continue.

The bishops have been meeting at the Vatican for three weeks to chart the church's future amid desertions of the faithful in much of once-staunchly Christian Europe and the West. The bishops made 58 proposals to Pope Benedict XVI to encourage a "new evangelization" to attract new faithful and woo back Catholics who have left.

The church's relations with Islam have been a constant theme in the speeches delivered by some of the 262 prelates gathered, with some even openly speaking about the possibility of Muslim conversions.

But attacks on Christians in largely Muslim countries have also been a concern, and the bishops proposed a standing commission to press for religious liberty.