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Report: Pope takes major step to open dialogue with Muslims

November 30, 2007

From Catholic News Agency:

The interesting twist in the Pope’s proposal for dialogue is that he has insisted on changing the context of the talks. While the Muslim leaders’ letter framed future dialogue around the twofold commandment to love God and one’s neighbor, Benedict XVI’s reply suggests a change in the terms of discussion.

According to the Holy Father’s letter to the prince, the path to true dialogue lies in “effective respect for the dignity of every human person, on objective knowledge of the religion of the other, on the sharing of religious experience and, finally, on common commitment to promoting mutual respect and acceptance among the younger generation.”

The letter also explained that Pope Benedict believes that this tack will lay a foundation for fruitful dialogue. The reply quoted a speech by the Holy Father in Cologne: “I am profoundly convinced that we must not yield to the negative pressures in our midst, but must affirm the values of mutual respect, solidarity and peace. The life of every human being is sacred, both for Christians and for Muslims. There is plenty of scope for us to act together in the service of fundamental moral values.”

Vatican analyst Sandro Magister explained a few days ago how Pope Benedict’s approach is fundamentally different than the proposals of the original Muslim letter.

Drawing on what he sees as the clearest example of the Holy Father’s approach to Catholic-Muslim dialogue, Magister cited the Pope’s pre-Christmas address to the Roman curia on December 22, 2006:

“In a dialogue to be intensified with Islam, we must bear in mind the fact that the Muslim world today is finding itself faced with an urgent task. This task is very similar to the one that has been imposed upon Christians since the Enlightenment, and to which the Second Vatican Council, as the fruit of long and difficult research, found real solutions for the Catholic Church.”

He summarized Benedict’s methodology writing, “The pope is asking Islam to make the same journey that the Catholic Church made under pressure from the Enlightenment. Love of God and neighbor must be realized in the full acceptance of religious freedom”, writes the Vatican analyst.

Full report here.

See also:
CNA: The Holy Father’s response to the open letter of the 138 Muslim leaders

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