Vatican Officials Meet Egyptian Foreign Ministers

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican officials in charge of dialogue with Muslims met with Egypt’s foreign minister and expressed the Catholic Church’s readiness to continue dialogue with scholars from Egypt’s premier Muslim institution, the Vatican said.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue’s president, and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, the secretary, met May 18 with Nabil al-Arabi, the Egyptian foreign minister.

A Vatican statement May 21 said that Cardinal Tauran reiterated Pope Benedict XVI’s esteem “for the people and authorities of Egypt and the Holy See’s readiness to continue on the path of interreligious dialogue and cooperation” with Cairo’s al-Azhar University.

Muslim clerics at al-Azhar called off the dialogue in February saying a statement from Pope Benedict about the need to protect Christians in Egypt amounted to interference in the country’s internal affairs.

The Egypt State Information Service reported May 23 that after returning to Cairo, al-Arabi met with Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand sheik of al-Azhar, and briefed him about his Vatican meetings. The information service said the al-Azhar scholars would not restart the dialogue until they see a change in Vatican attitudes toward Muslims and Islam.

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