Vatican To Host Muslim Leaders In November Forum

Preciosa Dumlao – AHN News Writer

Vatican City (AHN) – The Vatican announced on Wednesday Pope Benedict XVI will host a historic “summit” of Catholic and Muslim leaders in November with the aim of establishing a regular dialog between the two religions and improve often difficult relations.

The Catholic-Muslim Forum will be attended by 24 religious leaders and scholars from each side. It came after leaders of both religions have agreed to establish a regular dialog.

The conference, to be held from November to 8, will have themes “Love of God, Love of Neighbor,” “Theological and Spiritual Foundation”, and “Human Dignity and Mutual Respect.”

The conference will take place over a year after 138 Muslim leaders from various sects from 43 countries issued an open letter last year urging peace.

It was also announced after a two-day meeting at the Vatican with five representatives of a group of more than 200 Muslims who had signed an unprecedented appeal to the pope to begin a dialog.

Relations between Muslims and Christian turned sour in 2006 after Pope Benedict gave a speech at the Regensberg University in Germany for using a quote which was interpreted by some some Muslims to equate Islam with violence.

The speech triggered anger to some Muslim leaders despite the pontiff’s issuance of regret over the speech.

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has underscored Pope Benedict’s “complete willingness” to meet with Muslim leaders “to see what unites us, without minimizing or ignoring our differences.”