Vatican Official Expects New Level Of Dialogue With Muslims In 2008

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican official in charge of interreligious dialogue said he is confident a new level of dialogue with Muslims will take place in 2008.

“There is good will on both sides,” said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

After 138 Muslim scholars sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders in October outlining a proposal for a new dialogue and greater understanding, the pope invited a representative group of the scholars to meet with him at the Vatican. At the same time, the pope suggested the scholars hold a working session with officials from Cardinal Tauran’s office, the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies and the Pontifical Gregorian University.

Jordan’s Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal, the architect of the Muslim scholars’ project, wrote back to the Vatican in December suggesting that representatives meet in February or March to work out the details of the dialogue.

“I am very confident in the outcome of this meeting,” Cardinal Tauran told Vatican Radio Dec. 28.

He said he expected the meeting to deal with “the dignity of the human person and his rights, first of all the right to freedom of conscience and religion,” with the need for believers to “have an objective knowledge of the religion of the other,” and with the need to educate young people in tolerance and respect for the beliefs of others.