Vatican-Muslim Talks Set For November

Vatican, Mar. 5, 2008 ( – The Vatican has set a November date for a formal talks with Islamic leaders.

After informal talks in Rome on March 4 and 5, Vatican officials and representatives of the “Common Word” initiative agreed to establish a Catholic-Muslim Forum, with an inaugural meeting to take place in Rome on November 4-6.

The theme of that meeting will be “Love of God, Love of Neighbor,” the two parties said in a joint statement released on March 5. Participants will include 24 Catholic and Muslim scholars.

The joint statement announcing plans for the Catholic-Muslim Forum was signed by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue; and Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad, the president of the Muslim Academic Trust in Britain. The statement indicated that the first day of the November seminar would be devoted to theological and spiritual foundations of the two faiths, with the second day concentrating on “human dignity and mutual respect.” The third day will be a public session, ending with a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI (bionews).

The “Common Word” initiative originated with an appeal from 138 Islamic leaders for a deeper dialogue with Christians. Pope Benedict welcomed the idea, and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (bionews), the Vatican Secretary of State, issued an invitation on behalf of the Pontiff for representatives of the group to visit the Vatican for in-depth discussions. There are now more than 200 Islamic leaders– many of them living in Western countries– who have endorsed the Common Word initiative.

Glossary Terms: Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, Vatican Secretary of State