In an attempt to bring greater understanding between Muslim and Christian faiths, the Vatican has announced a new forum, the first meeting of which will be in November this year.
It is hoped The Catholic-Muslim Forum, as it will be called, will meet on a regular basis at the official level to improve the tempestuous relationships that can on occasion arise. While welcoming the concept of holding such meetings, it must be said that it is somewhat akin preaching to the converted.
Those who will be attending the forums will be learned scholars from among the Muslim and Christian faiths who, as monotheists, already have much in common.
But in order to achieve more harmony and understanding between Christians and Muslims worldwide, it is the ordinary person in the street who has to be made more aware of these faiths and their respective ideologies and similarities.
By agreeing to hold these forums, the Roman Catholic Church does make itself look as if it is trying to appease Muslims for their recent sins of omission and commission.
Although some two years ago, the lecture Pope Benedict gave in Germany making, to all intents and purposes, direct criticism of Islam, is still sharp in the memories of Muslims. Equally, at this time, the repeated publishing of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) in Europe has caused great offence among Muslims worldwide.
Demonstrations took time to subside the first time the cartoons were published, but for some newspapers to publish them again is inexcusable. It is obviously deliberately calculated to cause division and chaos, and sadly, in many Islamic countries, it has worked.
Both faiths tend to move slowly and cautiously in determining any new approaches to a problem, yet it is hoped that on this important issue of unity more speedy conclusions will be determined.