Pontiff Sends Condolences for Sheikh Tantawy

Affirms Partnership in Catholic-Muslim Dialogue

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is expressing condolences for the sudden death of Muhammad Sayyid Tantawy, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Mosque and Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt.

An English-language message was sent by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope’s secretary of state, on the Pontiff’s behalf, to Sheikh Muhammad Abd al-Aziz Wasil.

«Pope Benedict XVI has asked me to convey to your community and to the family of Sheikh Tantawy his heartfelt and prayerful condolences,» the cardinal wrote.

The sheikh died Wednesday of a heart attack at age 81.

The Pontiff «recalls the distinguished figure of this religious leader, who for long years was a valued partner in the dialogue between Muslims and Catholics,» the message affirmed.

Cardinal Bertone stated, «I willingly express my own condolences and I recall with gratitude the impulse which the late Sheikh gave to the meetings between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Permanent Committee of Al-Azhar for Dialogue.»

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