Pope, Muslims To Hold Historic Dialogue

Vatican City (AHN) – Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to meet with Muslim leaders in Rome for a “historic” meeting between the two opposing faiths, in an effort to find a means of co-existence, and discover a “common ground” between the religions.

The meeting was considered as the Vatican’s response to an open letter sent in October by 138 Islamic leaders, urging for a compromise with Christians and a development of a common ground, considering their belief in only one God.

“The meeting with the delegation of some of the 138 Muslims, planned for Rome next spring, is in a certain sense historic,” described Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran said to L’Osservatore Romano, a Vatican newspaper.

The event will also be aimed to further ease the tensions that have been growing between Christians and Muslims, further fueled by a 2006 comment made by the Pope calling the teachings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad “evil and inhuman.” The Pope issued an apology, claiming that they were based on medieval texts and not his own opinion.

According to the AP, thirty-eight Muslim leaders sent a letter to the Pope afterwards, thanking him for his clarifications on the matter. The letter also addressed the Pope’s suggestions for a dialogue, but no response was received from the Vatican.

“A Common Word Between Us and You”, the open letter signed by the 138 Muslim Leaders, followed.

The letter read: “As Muslims in obedience to the Holy Quran, we ask Christians to come together with us on the common essentials of our two religions…Let this common ground be the basis of all future interfaith dialogue between us.”

The invitation for the dialogue was sent out by Pope Benedict last November, and Islamic leaders have already confirmed their attendance, as reported by the Catholic World News.

The meeting is expected to be attended by representatives of the Vatican Secretariat of State and the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies.