The Vatican's commission for relations with Muslims is set to discuss over the next four years the theme "Christians and Muslims: Beacons of Hope."
The commission concluded a three-day meeting Thursday. The group was founded by Pope Paul VI in 1974, and it works closely with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
It includes eight Catholic experts in Christian-Muslim dialogue from countries as diverse as Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Italy, Germany, the UK and the United States.
In his opening remarks to the meeting, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, spoke of the turbulent history of Christian-Muslim relations since the birth of Islam in the 7th century, Vatican Radio reported. History, he said, "is not simply something from the past, but it influences positively or negatively our present and future." Christian and Muslim historians, he stressed, must work together to discern the truth of events, since "objectivity can open the way to asking and giving pardon."
Cardinal Tauran also emphasized three areas of discussion that deserve particular attention: First, the constant temptation to shift from interreligious to political dialogue. Second, the need for consistency between religious values and behavior, especially with respect for human dignity and human rights. Finally, the need for Christians, lay, religious and clergy, to receive a good formation for meeting believers of other religions, especially through interreligious dialogue.
Members of the Commission, which meets each years in Rome, also attended Pope Benedict’s last General Audience in St Peter's Square on Wednesday.