Vicar To Arabia Replies To Islamic Call For Dialogue

Nov. 27, 2007 ( – Bishop Paul Hinder, the apostolic vicar for Arabia, has responded to an open letter addressed by 138 Muslim leaders to the Holy See.

The Muslim leaders’ letter, released October 13, called for a broader dialogue between Christianity and Islam. The Chiesa web site, in a perceptive essay by Sandro Magister, has explained that the Vatican has been hesitant about responding because the dialogue suggested by the Islamic officials does not correspond to the dialogue that Pope Benedict himself suggested in his memorable Regensburg speech. A detailed reply from the Pontiff is expected next month, according to Italian news reports.

In his own response, Bishop Hinder appealed for the safety of Christians living in Saudi Arabia, for the right of priests to visit the country, and for recognition of religious freedom. About 1.2 million Christians live in Saudi Arabia, most of them foreign workers; the country does not allow any public practice of religions other than Islam.