Pope To Hold Seminar With Muslims

ROME, Italy (CNN) — Pope Benedict XVI plans to meet with Muslim scholars and religious leaders this autumn at a Catholic-Muslim seminar in Rome, the Vatican said Wednesday.

Two dozen scholars and leaders will be meeting November 4-6. The pope — who will be receiving the seminar participants — is scheduled to meet with Muslim scholars on the last day of the conference.

The announcement came after prominent Muslims and Catholics held talks at the Vatican this week in which they agreed to establish a Catholic-Muslim forum and to organize the November seminar.

“The theme of the seminar will be ‘Love of God, Love of Neighbor,’” the Vatican said in a news release.

“Theological and Spiritual Foundations” will be the sub-theme on the first day. “Human Dignity and Mutual Respect” will be the topic on the second day. A public session will be held on the third day.

The Roman Catholic Church has been working to foster dialogue with Muslims in recent years, especially in light of comments made by Benedict in September 2006.

He angered Muslims when he quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of Islam’s prophet, Mohammed, as “evil and inhuman” and “spread by the sword.”

The pope and the Vatican, however, have worked to forge dialogue and reconciliation with the Muslim world, including a visit to Turkey by the pope in November 2006