Vatican: Muslims ‘Satisfied’ With Interfaith Talks

Rome, 6 Nov. (AKI) – Muslims involved in landmark talks this week with Catholic officials at the Vatican say the talks have achieved results. “We are satisfied with the results of the Catholic-Muslim Forum, especially the creation of a permanent interreligious committee to prevent and resolve conflict,” said the president of Italy’s Association of Muslim Intellectuals and representative of Rome’s Grand Mosque, Ahmad Gianpiero Vincenzo.

“The committee is vital to the putting into practice of principles we have established we have in common,” said Vincenzo. The Muslim delegation to the talks proposed the new body, he said.

“Muslims and Christians believe in the same God and share the same tradition of prophets from Abraham to Jesus,” he continued.

“But we also share the same fundamental values of religious freedom, and respect for the physical and intellectual dignity of the individual,” he added.

“Catholics and Muslims both agree on the importance of education for young people and the teaching of ethical values that can counter the materialism which is damaging families and destroying humanity,” Vincenzo stressed.

Earlier on Thursday, Vincenzo was received by Pope Benedict XVI along with other delegates to the talks which are aimed at strengthening interfaith dialogue and resolving ongoing tensions between Islam and Christianity – the world’s two largest religions.

Closed-doors talks between 24 Muslim scholars and 24 Vatican officials and Catholic experts on Islam took place at the Vatican on Tuesday and Wednesday. The delegates looked at topics including ‘Love of God and Love of One’s Neighbour’, ‘Theological and spiritual Fundamentals’ and ‘the Dignity of the Human person’.

A concluding statement was expected from the talks on Thursday after a public session at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

The Catholic-Muslim Forum was set up by the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue and Muslim officials in response to a letter sent to Benedict XVI last October by 138 top Muslim intellectuals urging Christian churches to reach understanding with Islam to safeguard global security.

Catholic-Muslim relations soured after a 2006 speech the pontiff gave in Germany that appeared to link Islam to violence. The same year, a series of Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed also angered many Muslims worldwide.