VATICAN CITY, NOV. 6, 2001 ( Mindful of the world tensions triggered by terrorism, the Vatican is preparing a document of spirituality on interreligious dialogue.

The document, due out next year, is being discussed at this week´s plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Fifteen cardinals, two patriarchs and 29 bishops are discussing the way to proclaim Christ through dialogue with believers of other religions. The document will be addressed to the world´s 1 billion Catholics.

Cardinal Francis Arinze, president of the interreligious council, told Vatican Radio: "The plenary assembly seeks to address the challenges that are facing humanity, especially in these months, in which terrorism must be taken into account."

He noted: "The extremists also invoke the name of God or of religion in favor of violence."

The discussions are taking place in the spirit of John Paul II´s encyclical "Redemptoris Missio," in which he states that interreligious dialogue is part of the Church´s evangelization mission.

Bishop Michael Fitzgerald, secretary of the interreligious council, addressed the question of dialogue with the Muslim world, and insisted there is no confrontation between Islam and the West.

"I see, instead, that there is a part of Islam that is against the West, but there are many voices that support the struggle against terrorism, including Muslims," Bishop Fitzgerald told Vatican Radio.

"We have received petitions from Muslims to pronounce a joint condemnation of terrorism and to mutually collaborate," he added. "I think the struggle against extremism is a common struggle of Christians and Muslims."

He continued: "I would reject this theory of the clash of civilizations and believe that [we are], instead, in a time of dialogue between cultures. Hence, we must find the means to further this dialogue."