Monday, November 24, 2008

Italy: Muslim leader defends Pope on inter-faith dialogue

Roma, 24 Nov. (AKI) - Pope Benedict XVI's praise for a new book which argues Europe should stay true to its Christian roots should not be misinterpreted, the head of the association of Italian Muslims, Ahmad Gianpiero Vincenzo, told Adnkronos International (AKI).

In comments made in the preface to Italian center-right politician Marcello Pera's forthcoming book 'Why We Must Call Ourselves Christian' Benedict XVI appeared to cast doubt on the possibility of inter-religious dialogue.

The Pope also called for more discussion of the practical consequences of religious differences.

In a quotation from the preface which appeared in Italian newspapers on Sunday, Benedict said the book "explained with great clarity" why "an interreligious dialogue in the strict sense of the word is not possible."

"The pontiff's words in his forward to Marcello Pera's latest book must be correctly interpreted without any manipulation by those who are seeking a clash of civilisations " Vincenzo told AKI.

"For us Muslims, inter-religious dialogue has a fundamental role in today's world, where more than ever before the underlying principles that religions have in common need to be underlined, starting with faith in the same God," he said.

"We totally agree with Benedict that it is not possible to advance dialogue between religions that plays down the specific doctrines and rituals of individual faiths.

"Otherwise, we slide into the relativism of those who believe all religions are the same and that individual religious doctrines and ritual practices are no longer needed," said Vincenzo.


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