Muslim and Christian dialogue has entered a new phase as Pope Benedict XVI replied to a landmark letter sent by 138 Muslim scholars.
The original letter entitled “A common word between Us and You” was sent on October 13. It was signed by 138 scholars from Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Europe and the United States.
The letter said that world peace could depend on improved relations between Muslims and Christians. It highlighted the similarities between the faiths, who worship the same God, and together make up over half the world’s population.
The Holy See Press Office said that Pope Benedict personally replied to the letter, that was sent to Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal, president of the Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought and one of the signatories of the original letter.
The reply said that dialogue should be centered on human dignity and religious freedom and that the path to true dialogue lies in effective respect for every human person, an objective knowledge of the other’s religion and shared religious experiences.
The letter quoted a speech by the Pope saying, “I am profoundly convinced that we must not yield to the negative pressures in our midst, but affirm the values of mutual respect, solidarity and peace. There is plenty of scope for us to act together in the service of fundamental moral values.”
Pope Benedict XVI expressed his willingness to receive Prince Ghazi and a delegation of the signatories of the letter at the Vatican.