Vatican – Pope Benedict XVI (bio – news) has answered a call for dialogue between Christian and Islamic leaders, inviting a group of 138 Muslim officials to Rome to continue the exchange.
The Pope’s answer to the Muslim leaders– who had released their open letter on October 13– came in the form of a letter to Jordan’s Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal, the president of the Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought and one of the 138 Islamic leaders who had signed the open letter. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (bio – news), the Vatican Secretary of State, signed the response, explaining that he was writing on behalf of Pope Benedict.
The Pope voiced his “deep appreciation” for the Muslim leaders’ initiative, and observed:
Without ignoring or downplaying our differences as Christians and Muslims, 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.
Cardinal Bertone went on to say that the Pope hopes to foster “mutual respect and acceptance” among young Christians and Muslims, and believes that by working together, the two faiths can make a great contribution to preserving the dignity of human life and promoting peace and justice.
The Pope’s response asks Prince Ghazi to select “a restricted group of signatories of the open letter” to visit the Vatican, and continue the inter-religious dialogue there. The Pontiff offers the services of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue and the pontifical universities to facilitate the exchange.