Muslim–Christian Dialogue Continues Despite Setback

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue will still move forward in its efforts to promote Christian–Muslim dialogue despite the fact that top Muslim academics in Egypt suspended talks with the Vatican.

The head of the council, Cardinal Jean–Louis Tauran, said he believed the boycott could be resolved and that he was still scheduled to meet in February with Muslim academics from Cairo.

The president of al–Azhar University in Cairo and members of the Islamic Research Academy announced Jan. 20 that they were freezing all dialogue with the Vatican to protest Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks about anti–Christian violence in Egypt and the need to protect religious minorities there.

Cardinal Tauran told the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, Jan. 29 that they were still trying to understand what compelled Cairo’s Muslim academics to suspend dialogue.

He said he believed “an attentive reading” of the pope’s remarks would help clear up any misunderstanding.

“If we want to move forward with dialogue, one must first of all find the time to sit and talk face–to–face, not through the newspapers,” he said.

“In such a precarious world so full of walls separating people physically or morally, it seems to me more necessary than ever for religions, despite their differences, to promote together love and peace,” he said.

The interreligious dialogue council “will continue to welcome with friendship whoever wishes to enter into a conversation with the Catholic Church,” said the cardinal.

“For the moment, all of our appointments are still on, including the one in February with our partners in Cairo,” he said.

Every year, the Joint Committee for Dialogue of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Permanent Committee of al–Azhar for Dialogue among the Monotheistic Religions meets in late February.

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