VATICAN CITY, MARCH 5, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The first seminar of the newly-established Catholic-Muslim Forum, founded to further relations between the two faiths, will discuss love for God and neighbor this November in Rome.
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue announced this today upon concluding a two-day meeting between representatives of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and five signatories of the open letter “A Common Word.”
The meeting was organized in response to the letter sent by 138 Muslim scholars to Benedict XVI and Christian leaders in October, on the occasion of the end of the month of Ramadan.
The Vatican announced the establishment of the Catholic-Muslim Forum in a statement released by the heads of the two delegations, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad, president of the U.K.-based Muslim Academic Trust, UK.
It said the forum was established to “further develop” dialogue between the two faiths.
The note also stated that the first seminar of the forum would be held Rome Nov. 4-6 on the theme “Love of God, Love of Neighbor.” Subthemes such as “Theological and Spiritual Foundations” and “Human Dignity and Mutual Respect” will also be discussed.
The communiqué added that 24 religious leaders and scholars from each side will attend the meeting, and Benedict XVI will receive the participants in audience.
Aref Ali Nayed, director of the Jordan-based Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center, said in a press conference after the meeting that the forum is a “sign of hope” for relations between the two faiths.
“Vatican takes Islam seriously and we also take them very seriously and this is why we are here,” Nayed said at the press conference.
Even though the scholar personally views the Regensburg discourse Benedict XVI delivered in September 2006 as a ” huge mistake,” he said that it’s important to remember the respect the Catholic Church has shown toward Muslims since the Second Vatican Council.
The professor added that it is necessary “to go back to very simple foundations of faith beyond social political and theological issues.”