Vatican 'to accept Muslim dialogue call soon'

Vatican plans to respond positively and very soon to an appeal by Muslim scholars for an unprecedented dialogue between Islam and Christianity.

Vatican 'to accept Muslim dialogue call soon'
The Vatican plans to respond positively and very soon to an appeal by Muslim scholars for an unprecedented dialogue between Islam and Christianity, Roman Catholic cardinals and Islam experts say.

The Catholic Church, representing more than half the world's two billion Christians, has not yet officially answered the call made last month and hailed by most other Christian leaders.

But cardinals in Rome and Vatican officials said many Catholic leaders wanted a serious dialogue with Muslim leaders to help overcome misunderstandings.

"The Vatican will respond positively, and quite soon," said Dakar Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr, whose homeland Senegal is 95 percent Muslim. "We will not miss this opportunity."

"Watch out for this week," said a veteran cardinal, who asked not to be named. The prelates were in Rome for a ceremony to install 23 new members of the College of Cardinals.

Muslim call

The appeal in October by 138 scholars representing a large majority of Islamic views invited Christian leaders to a dialogue based on their common belief that love of God and neighbour is the cornerstone of their religions.

Sarr said the Vatican planned to invite a small group of the scholars who signed the appeal for exploratory talks on the way forward. "There will be a meeting with them to clarify what they want to do," he said. "After that, we'll see what we can do."

Many Christian leaders promptly gave positive responses, but the Vatican's top official for relations with Islam - Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran -- had expressed doubt both faiths could agree on such issues as God, love and how to read sacred scripture.

In the meantime, leading Catholic experts on Islam lined up to welcome the Muslim initiative, leaving Tauran - whose doubts echoed reservations about Islam expressed in the past by Pope Benedict - looking increasingly isolated.

Aref Ali Nayed, a signatory of the appeal, said the Muslim scholars understood the Vatican took time to respond and that a positive response "would be a clear sign of hope for the world."

Nayed noted that 300 mostly Protestant leaders in the United States had recently supported their call.

Catholic experts on Islam said the Vatican's reservations were complex theological issues such as whether Christians and Muslims had the same vision of God.

But they said there was so much misunderstanding between Christians and Muslims about what each other believed that a serious dialogue about them would help improve relations.

"There are differences and they will always be there," one said. "But now is not the time to look for problems. It is important to respond to something so positive with something equally positive."


Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Kasım 2007, 11:56