Pope Benedict XVI has approved the first-ever Catholic-Muslim forum which will hold its first meeting at the Vatican in November 2008. The decision follows three days of meetings with Vatican officials and a Muslim delegation representing 138 Muslim scholars. Inspired by Prince Ghazi bin Muhammed bin Talal of Jordan, these scholars wrote an open letter to the Pope and other Christian leaders last year, calling for greater dialogue between the groups. The first summit’s theme will be Love of God, Love of Neighbour and will take place 4-6 November at the Vatican. Nearly 50 delegates will attend; the group will be addressed by the pontiff.
Pope Benedict has accepted an unprecedented call by Muslim scholars for dialogue between Christians and Islam, and invited them for meetings in Vatican City. “Without ignoring or downplaying our differences as Christians and Muslims, we can and therefore should look to what unites us, namely the belief in one God,” the Vatican wrote in a message signed by Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State. The pope also said that he was willing to receive Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammed of Jordan, the monarch’s special adviser on religious matters, to whom the note is addressed, as well as a restricted group of the letter’s signatories.