Italy: Christian Clerics Praise Muslim Leaders’ Letter To Pope

Rome, 25 Oct. (AKI) – Five Christian clerics from Italy’s top Islamic studies institute have praised the 29-page letter to the Pope issued earlier this month by 138 scholars from every sect of Islam that warned the “survival of the world” is at stake if Muslims and Christians do not make peace.

“We are convinced of the good faith of those who produced it,” wrote Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, rector of the Rome-based Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI) in letter that was also signed by PISAI’s dean of studies Etienne Renaud, and PISAI professors Michel Lagarde, Valentino Cottini and Felix Phiri.

“We were impressed by the broad scope of this text. Its breadth at the level of the signatories…Muslim personalities from numerous countries of every continent…there was breadth also at the level of the addressees.”

The letter issued on 11 Oct. by the Muslim scholars from all over the world was addressed to 28 leaders of different Christian churches, including the head of the Catholic church, Pope Benedict XVI.

“The authors of the letter do not seek refuge in a convenient one-sided protest on behalf of the umma [community of Muslims], but on the contrary, place themselves as partners within humanity,” commented the five Christian clerics in their letter.

“The broad sweep of its perspectives is also a noteworthy feature of the text,” they said.

They also praised “evidence of deep respect and genuine attentiveness to others,” and “a true scientific spirit.”

“In this respect, also, we note the emergence of a new attitude,” the clerics said.

Their letter is the first response by Christian clerics in Italy to the Muslim religious leaders’ 11 Oct. letter. The Vatican has not so far issued an official response.

A letter to the Pope from 38 top Muslim clerics in various countries issued in October 2006 accepted the pontiff’s expressions of regret for a controversial speech on Islam he gave the previous month in Regensburg, Germany.

But the October 2006 letter also points out “errors” and “mistakes” in the Pope’s speech, which angered Muslims by linking Islam and violence and questioned the concept of holy war or ‘Jihad’.

The Pope did not apologise for his Regensburg address, but said he regretted the offence it had caused among Muslims.