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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pope Benedict Responds to "A Common Word" (Muslim Invitation to Dialogue)

Pope invites senior Muslims to Vatican meeting AFP Nov. 29, 2007:
VATICAN CITY (AFP) — Pope Benedict XVI invited a delegation of senior Muslim personalities, who signed an appeal for greater dialogue between religions, to a meeting at the Vatican, according to a letter released Thursday.

The pope praised the "positive spirit" behind the October 11 message signed by 138 top Muslims from around the world and sent to Christian leaders, said Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone in the letter sent in Pope Benedict's name.

The pope wanted to meet a representative group of the signatories at the Vatican, he added in the letter sent to Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal, head of the Institute for Islamic Thought in Amman.

"The Pope has asked me to convey his gratitude to Your Royal Highness and to all who signed the letter," Bertone wrote.

"He also wishes to express his deep appreciation for this gesture, for the positive spirit which inspired the text and for the call for a common commitment to promoting peace in the world.

"Without ignoring or downplaying our differences as Christians and Muslims, we can and therefore should look to what unites us, namely, belief in the one God, the provident Creator and universal Judge who at the end of time will deal with each person according to his or her actions. We are all called to commit ourselves totally to him and to obey his sacred will."

The letter said the pope "was particularly impressed by the attention given in the letter to the twofold commandment to love God and one's neighbour." [...]

Bertone said that with a view to encouraging the "praiseworthy initiative" from the Muslim leaders, "His Holiness would be most willing to receive Your Royal Highness and a restricted group of signatories of the open letter, chosen by you.

"At the same time, a working meeting could be organized between your delegation and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, with the cooperation of some specialized Pontifical Institutes (such as the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies and the Pontifical Gregorian University)."

  • Rocco Palmo posts the full text of the letter from the Pope to the 138 Muslim leaders.
  • Pope invites Muslim scholars to meet with him, dialogue council, by Cindy Wooden. Catholic News Service. Nov. 29, 2007.
  • Vatican: Pope expresses "deep appreciation" for Muslim letter ADN Kronos Int'l. Nov. 29, 2007.
  • "Pope favors dialogue with Islam" Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the press office of the Holy See, Zenit News. December 9, 2007.
  • Al-Qaida Reference to Pope "Not Surprising": Vatican Aide Says Terrorists Worried by a Pontiff Who Dialogues Zenit News Service. December 18, 2007:
    Al-Qaida is worried by Benedict XVI's efforts to dialogue with Muslims, says a Vatican spokesman.

    Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi affirmed this today when commenting on a one-hour 37-minute video from al-Qaida's second-in-command, who criticized Benedict XVI's Nov. 6 meeting with Saudi Arabian King Abdallah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

    The video from Ayman al-Zawahri was posted Sunday on the Internet. The al-Qaida leader said the Pope's meeting with King Abdallah, the first ever between a Pontiff and a Saudi monarch, was offensive to Islam and Muslims.

  • Letter by 138 Muslim intellectuals calls on Muslims to reflect upon their faith, says Muslim scholar January 23, 2008:
    The Open Letter 138 Muslim intellectuals wrote to the Pope and other Christian leaders is indirectly addressed to Muslims because it calls on “Muslims to rethink and to re-educate ourselves about our own Islamic,” said Ali Aiyub in a “reflection” sent to AsiaNews. Mr Aiyub, who is Muslim, is the director of the Silsilah Dialogue Institute, whose president is Fr Sebastiano D'Ambra, a missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME).

    “For me as a Muslim,” Aiyub writes, “I consider the Open Letter a milestone in the history of Islam in the contemporary world. I would liken it to Vatican II, a revolution within the Catholic Church’s teachings to respond to the signs of the time. This Open Letter serves as bedrock to drumbeat our local interfaith dialogue as path to peace.”

    This document is “a sign of hope and an inspiration to commit myself as a Muslim in the service of dialogue in today’s chaotic world where religion, as has been done since time immemorial, is misused to legitimize selfish motives.”

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