Catholic-Muslim Dialogue Touted as Useful and Timely

Vatican Upbeat on Colloquium With Iranian Delegation

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 9, 2003 ( Dialogue between Catholics and Muslims not only is possible but necessary, said representatives of the Holy See and Iran at the end of a symposium.

The meeting, held Nov. 29-Dec. 2, took place at the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, whose president is British Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald.

The theme of the fourth Islamic-Christian Colloquium was “Truth, Justice, Love, Freedom: Pillars of Peace.” It attracted eight delegates from Iran, led by Ayatollah Mahmud Mohammadi Araghi, president of the Organization for Islamic Culture and Communication.

“Each one of the four values in which the theme of the colloquium was articulated was discussed in the Muslim and Christian perspective,” the pontifical council explained in a press statement today.

“The experience of open, respectful and fruitful dialogue that characterized the colloquium, confirmed in participants the conviction of its usefulness and timeliness for a progressive improvement in the relations between the two religions and for a more effective contribution to the construction of peace in the world,” it added.

The statement announced that the Holy See’s delegation as well as Iran’s manifested their willingness “to study possible forms of collaboration and decided that they would make available whatever is necessary for the organization of the next meeting in Tehran.”

The participants in the colloquium were received by John Paul II, who made an appeal that was given wide coverage in the international press. “The holy name of God must never be used to incite violence or terrorism, to promote hatred or exclusion,” he told them.

“Today there is an especially urgent need for dialogue, understanding and cooperation between the world’s great religions, especially Christianity and Islam,” the Pope told his Iranian guests. “Religion is in fact called to build bridges between individuals, peoples, and cultures, to be a sign of hope for humanity.”

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