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Pope and Muslim Scholars to Attend New Catholic-Muslim Forum

12:16, March 6th 2008 The Vatican plans to boost the religious dialog between the Catholics and Muslims. Therefore, Pope Benedict XVI announced on Wednesday that he decided to create a new Catholic-Muslim Forum with the main purpose of improving the relations between the two parties. 

The decision to create the forum was taken shortly after a delegation of Muslim scholars attended a meeting with members of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue. The meeting took place on Tuesday.

The Holy Sea also announced that the first meeting of the Catholic-Muslim Forum was scheduled to take place in Rome in November. The seminar was called “Love of God, Love of Neighbor.” During the seminar, Catholic and Muslim scholars will discuss theological issues and social matters as well.

Pope Benedict XVI will attend the meeting and is expected to address the participants.

Professor Aref Ali Nayed, Director of the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in Amman, Jordan was present when the decision to create the Catholic-Muslim Forum was taken.

“The atmosphere was quite positive and welcoming, and it was very nice to be with our counterparts from the Catholic Church,” Nayed said. He added that the Forum will meet every two years – one year in Rome and the following meeting will be held in a Muslim city.

Professor Nayed was among those 140 Muslim scholars who signed a letter sent to the Pope and other Christian leaders last year. The letter underlined the fact that the Christians and Muslims should develop common ground. Since then, 100 more Muslim scholars have signed the letter.

This letter and the ideas it promoted shows that not all Muslims are radical and extremists and this is a fact that the Western World should pay attention to. Although the scars made by Pope Benedict XVI, when, during a lecture held in German, he implied that Islam is violent, are still open, a great number of Muslim scholars responded in , let’s say, a Christian fashion.

“For some Muslims, they are not healed, completely not healed,” he added.  “And there are some Muslims who are boycotting the Vatican.  And some important Muslims and some important bodies of Muslim scholars still feel offended by that quite deeply.”

Although the Pope’s lecture was “a huge mistake,” Nayed said the Vatican has shown positive signs over the past years.

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