Christians and Muslims Focus on Bridge Building

European Committee Meets to Plan Future Encounters

ESZTERGOM, Hungary, APRIL 22, 2008 ( European Christians and Muslims are intensifying dialogue and planning future encounters focused on building bridges between the two faiths.

The Committee for Relations With Muslims in Europe, established by the Conference of European Churches and the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, met in Hungary from April 17 to 20. A number of Muslim guests participated in the meeting and the group jointly worked on preparations for a Christian-Muslim conference scheduled for October.

Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, spoke at the meeting, expressing his hopes that Christians and Muslims in Europe deepen their relationship of collaboration.

In some countries in Eastern and Central Europe, he noted, Christians and Muslims live together in an atmosphere of peaceful coexistence, and this carries a significant message to western countries.

During the October conference, representatives of the two faiths will join in considering the role of religion in a secular society; religion as institution and as personal faith; how Christians and Muslims consider each other and how mutual respect can be promoted by way of education; and building bridges in the challenges facing our communities.

The agenda of the Esztergom meeting also included dialogue concerning the Oct. 13, 2007, open letter from 138 Muslim religious leaders addressed to authorities of Churches and Christian confessions.

The dialogue reflected the “interest that this text has roused,” a communiqué from the meeting reported. And it mentioned the initiatives that have come from the letter, including the Catholic-Muslim Forum that is being established, as well as an expected encounter between a delegation of the 138 Muslim scholars and Benedict XVI.