Benedict XVI Thanks Muslims For Letter, Papal Willing To Receive A Delegation Of The Signers

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 29, 2007 ( - In a response to an open letter sent by 138 Muslim scholars to Benedict XVI and Christian leaders, the Pope affirmed the importance of dialogue and mutual respect and acceptance.

The Muslims’ letter, sent Oct. 13, was written on the occasion of the end of the month of Ramadan, and titled “A Common Word Between Us and You.”

The Holy Father’s responding note, signed by his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, is addressed to Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal, president of the Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, one of the signatories of the original letter.

“The Pope has asked me to convey his gratitude to Your Royal Highness and to all who signed the letter,” Cardinal Bertone wrote. “He also wishes to express his deep appreciation for this gesture, for the positive spirit which inspired the text and for the call for a common commitment to promoting peace in the world.”

“Without ignoring or downplaying our differences as Christians and Muslims,” the papal note said, “we can and therefore should look to what unites us, namely, belief in the one God, the provident Creator and universal Judge who at the end of time will deal with each person according to his or her actions. We are all called to commit ourselves totally to him and to obey his sacred will.”

Benedict XVI further reaffirmed the importance of dialogue based on effective respect for the dignity of the person, on objective knowledge of the other’s religion, on the sharing of religious experience, and on joint commitment to promoting mutual respect and acceptance.

The letter also mentioned the Holy Father’s willingness to receive Prince Ghazi and a delegation of the signatories of the letter. It further affirmed the readiness of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, in collaboration with other specialized pontifical institutes, to organize a working meeting.