Pope to address Catholic and Muslim scholars

 Forty-eight Catholic and Muslim scholars will gather in Rome from November 4 to 6 under the auspices of the Catholic-Muslim Forum, which was established in March.

The theme of the forum is: Love of God, Love of Neighbor., Pope Benedict is expected to address the scholars, according international Catholic media reports.

It will be the first meeting of the Catholic-Muslim Forum, formed in the wake of widespread Muslim indignation over the Pope's speech in Regensburg, Germany, in 2006.

The November 4-5 sessions will take place behind closed doors, followed by a public session on November 6 with a few representatives from each side. Both delegations include women scholars.

The forum will focus on two areas, the theological and spiritual foundations of Christian and Muslim teachings on love and charity, a topic that points toward broad areas of agreement and perhaps practical cooperation.

The other issue is human dignity and mutual respect, an area that may allow the Vatican to press its concerns about human rights and the treatment of minority Christian communities in Muslim countries, including Iraq.

Muslim participants involved in preparing the meeting said it's important that this new forum not focus on political issues or end up debating a "list of grievances" on both sides. Instead, they have expressed hope that the dialogue can counter misperceptions of the Islamic world in the West.
"The Vatican has worked to overcome the negative perceptions caused by some in the West who use religious language to veil political or cultural hatreds, but this is not always noted in the Muslim world, said Abdal Hakim Murad, president of the Muslim Academic Trust in London and a principal Muslim representative who helped work out the November.

One Catholic who will attend the November meeting, but who asked not to be named, said highlighting common ground was an understandable goal, but that it was important to focus on areas of difference as well as agreement.

"To accept that we are different but can still live together in cooperation would be much more important, I think, than just to say how much we have in common," he said.

Source: CISA

Share this story