The Vatican: An Overture To Muslims

In an attempt to improve relations with the Islamic world, the Vatican opened a three-day Catholic-Muslim seminar on Tuesday. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, who is presiding over the meeting, said it marked “a new chapter” in Vatican-Muslim relations. Two years ago, Pope Benedict XVI offended some Muslims when he quoted a medieval text that called some teachings of the Prophet Muhammad “evil and inhuman.” Last year, 138 Muslim scholars wrote to Benedict and other Christian leaders, urging that Christianity and Islam work together. Seminar participants include the Chaldean archbishop, Louis Sako, of Kirkuk in northern Iraq; Tariq Ramadan, a professor of Islamic studies at Oxford; and Seyyed Mustafa Manegheg Damad, a Shiite Muslim from Iran. The meeting is expected to culminate in an audience with Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday.

A version of this article appeared in print on November 5, 2008, on page A20 of the New York edition.