Roman Catholics meet Muslims after Common Word
As a direct result of the open letter from Muslim scholars called A Common Word Vatican and Muslim officials met in Rome at the start of March to lay the foundations for further Catholic-Islamic talks later this year. Senior figures from each religion discussed details of the planned talks, which will involve an audience with Pope Benedict XVI.
Catholic-Muslim relations soured after a 2006 speech in Germany, in which the pope quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor’s criticisms of Islam. The Regensburg speech provoked Muslim fury and triggered protests worldwide.
It also prompted 138 Muslim scholars from 43 countries to launch an appeal to Christians in general and the pope in particular for greater theological dialogue. Since then the number of signatories to the appeal has grown to more than 200.
The two-day talks in Rome marked the start of a process which will lead to the larger meeting, which is likely to take place either at the Vatican before the summer, or at the pope’s summer residence, south of Rome, in August.