Pope to host summit with Muslims
Pope Benedict XVI will host landmark Catholic-Muslim talks in
November to improve ties between the two religions.
The announcement was made in a joint statement after a two-day
meeting between senior Vatican and Muslim leaders in Rome.
Catholic-Muslim relations soured after a 2006 speech in Germany in
which the Pope quoted a 14th Century Byzantine emperor's criticisms of
The Regensburg speech provoked Muslim fury and triggered protests
worldwide. But it also prompted 138 Muslim scholars from 43 countries to
launch an appeal to the Pope for greater theological dialogue, called
the Common Word. Since then the number of signatories to the appeal has
grown to more than 200.
The joint statement said the first Catholic-Muslim summit would be
held in Rome on 4-6 November and would involve 24 religious leaders and
scholars from each side. It said the Pope would address the meeting on
the themes of "Love of God, Love of Neighbour", "Theological and
Spiritual Foundation" and "Human Dignity and Mutual Respect".
Catholic and Muslim leaders hope the forum will start a regular
official dialogue between the two religions. The conference will take
place just over a year after the Regensburg speech.
Although the pontiff has repeatedly expressed regret for the reaction
to his comments, he stopped short of the clear apology sought by
Muslims. But the BBC's Frances Kennedy in Rome says the Vatican is now
clearly convinced of the need for a wider, if more difficult, dialogue