Catholic-Muslim dialogue takes step forward as dates are set

The dates of November 4-6 have been set for dialogue between Catholic leaders and two dozen Muslim scholars and leaders to meet in Rome; Pope Benedict XVI will meet with the Muslim delegates on the last day of the meetings. According to a Vatican news release, the theme of the seminar will be _Love of God, Love of Neighbor.’ Several thematic issues will be discussed – Theological and Spiritual Foundations on the first day, Human Dignity and Mutual Respect on the second day. On the third and final day, a public session will be held. The meeting grew out of a Vatican response from a letter to the Pope signed by 138 Muslim delegates, after insensitive comments made by Pope Benedict in 2006.

Muslims outnumber Catholics, says Vatican

The number of Muslims has surpassed that of Roman Catholics for the first time, the Vatican said. While Catholics make up 17.4 percent of the world’s population, Muslims account for 19.2% – this according to the Vatican’s new statistics yearbook, based on figures from 2006. Monsignor Vittoro Formenti, who edited the yearbook, cites this due to declining birth rates among Catholics and the rise in the number of children had by Muslim families. Formenti said that the information on Muslim numbers had been released by the United Nations, while the Vatican’s data on Catholics was based on questionnaires sent out to dioceses around the world.

Vatican prepares for inter-religious meeting with Muslim leaders

The first meetings were held earlier this week at the Vatican to prepare for the visit of representatives of the 138 Muslim scholars who have offered to conduct an inter-religious dialogue. The first meetings at the Vatican will take place in March at the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and will be presided over by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran. The Muslim representatives will meet with Pope Benedict and other Church officials, and hold study sessions at institutes like the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies.

Bin Laden’s son wants to meet with Pope

Omar bin Laden, son of the infamous al-Qaeda leader Osama bin-Laden, has said that he wishes to meet with Pope Benedict XVI and visit the Vatican. Omar, who considers himself an ambassador for peace, has been quoted in recent interviews that a truce between the West and al-Qaeda is possible. On a program called ‘Nothing Personal’ on Italian TV network LA7, Omar said I would very much like to meet the Pope in St. Peter’s, but I have been told that it is not easy.”

Catholic officials, Muslim scholars to meet in Rome

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – A landmark meeting between Catholic officials and Muslim scholars that aims to spur dialogue between Christianity and Islam is planned to take place in Rome this spring, a senior Vatican official said. The top Vatican official in charge of relations with Islam, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, said he expected an advanced group of three Muslim representatives in February or March to lay the groundwork for the meeting. “In a certain sense, (the meeting) can be defined as historic,” Tauran told the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, in an edition published earlier this week.

Vatican: Historic Catholic-Muslim meeting planned

Catholic and Muslim representatives will meet in Rome, in either February or March to begin a historic interfaith dialogue. Pope Benedict XVI proposed the encounter as part of his official response to Christian leaders in October, by 138 Muslim scholars. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran did not give an exact date for meeting, but said that it would take place in the spring.

Vatican to accept Muslim dialogue call soon

The Vatican plans to respond positively to an appeal by Muslim scholars, in an unprecedented dialogue between Christians and Muslims. As of yet, the Catholic Church has not officially answered the call made last month by Muslim scholars, already hailed by many other Christian leaders. Cardinals in Rome and Vatican City asserted that Catholic leaders wanted a serious dialogue with Muslim leaders to help overcome misunderstandings. This is an opportunity the Lord has given us and put into the hearts of people to work together, said Cardinal Oswald Gracias from Mumbai. The Vatican is expected to invite a small group of scholars who signed the appeal for exploratory talks and interfaith discussion. Aref Ali Nayed, a signatory of the appeal, said Muslims understood the Vatican took time to respond and that a positive response “would be a clear sign of hope for the world.”

Christians must respond to challenges with ‘united voice,’ pope says

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.

Vatican City: Muslim Letter to Pope

By Ian Fisher A group of 138 Muslim scholars urged Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders to engage in a deep dialogue for peace between the faiths. Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population, the 29-page letter read. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. There was no immediate reaction from Benedict, criticized for a speech he gave last year that Muslims said equated their religion with violence. He has since called repeatedly for a similar dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

Public Expresses Mixed Views of Islam, Mormonism: Benedict XVI Viewed Favorably But Faulted on Religious Outreach

Summary of Findings

The Muslim and Mormon religions have gained increasing national visibility in recent years. Yet most Americans say they know little or nothing about either religion’s practices, and large majorities say that their own religion is very different from Islam and the Mormon religion.

A summary of this poll and the full report are available for download on the Pew Research Center website.