Monday, September 25, 2006

Pope to Muslim leaders: dialogue not optional extra but vital necessity

Benedict tells Muslim leaders, dialogue is not an option

Castelgandolfo, Sep. 25, 2006 (CNA) - Meeting with a group of Muslim clerics as well as several ambassadors from mostly Islamic countries today, Pope Benedict XVI reiterated his desire to continue down the road of sincere dialogue in order to foster peace in the world.

The Pontiff, who invited the Muslim representatives to his residence at Castelgandolfo to reaffirm his respect and esteem for their religion and people, told the leaders that the dialogue between Christians and Muslims, “cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is, in fact, a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends.

”Benedict clearly indicated his desire to forge ahead with interfaith talks, barely mentioning the comments which have caused an uproar in the Muslim world. “The circumstances which have given rise to our gathering are well known,” Benedict commented, reminding them that he has already offered his regrets that offence had been taken and his assurances that the views of emperor Manuel II in no way reflect his own.

He then went on to quote the Second Vatican Council document “Nostra Aetate,” which he called the “Magna Carta” for the Church’s position on Muslim-Christian dialogue, saying “The Church looks upon Muslims with respect. They worship the one God living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to humanity and to whose decrees, even the hidden ones, they seek to submit themselves whole-heartedly, just as Abraham, to whom the Islamic faith readily relates itself, submitted to God (NA, 3).”


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