Benedict XVI stresses the importance of reciprocity between Christians and Muslims.

Source: FSSPX News

On May 15, the pope granted a private audience to the members of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerants, gathered in a plenary assembly on the theme Migration and Itinerancy from and to mostly Islamic Countries. 

On this occasion, he invited Christians to an "open dialogue on the religious issue" but also to "reciprocity" in this dialogue. – The 17th plenary session of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerants opened in the morning of May 15 at the Vatican and ended on May 17. These three days of work were focused on migrations and their itineraries from and to mostly Islamic countries, as well as on the situation of the Christians living in such countries.

"The Catholic Church feels with growing awareness that the interreligious dialogue is part and parcel of her commitment to serve mankind in today’s world", declared the pope in his brief address in Italian. "This conviction has become her "daily bread", he emphasized, especially for those who work with migrants, refugees and the various categories of itinerant people".

"We live in times when Christians are called upon to cultivate a style of open dialogue on the religious issue", he then stated.  But "without renouncing to offer to their interlocutors the Christian proposition consistent with its own identity".

"We feel always more the importance of reciprocity in the dialogue", he insisted, quoting the Instruction "Erga migrantes caritas Christi which defines reciprocity "as a ‘principle’ of great importance". "It is a ‘relationship based on mutual respect’ and an ‘attitude of the heart and mind’, he explained. "The efforts made in numerous communities to establish relationships of mutual esteem with the immigrants seem more than ever useful to overcome prejudices". Thus, the Christians "are called upon to open their arms and heart to any person, from whatever country he may come, leaving to the authorities responsible for public life the care of making the laws deemed opportune for a sane cohabitation", went on Benedict XVI. "Obviously, it must also be hoped that the Christians who emigrate to mostly Islamic countries will meet welcome and respect for their religious identity", he wished.

On February 20 last, when he received the new ambassador of Morocco near the Holy See, Benedict XVI had defended the idea of "the respect for the convictions and religious practices of others, so that, the exercise of everyone’s freely chosen religion be really guaranteed, and reciprocally so, in all societies".

This 17th session was presided by the president of the Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Renato Martino, appointed president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerants, on March 11 last; the pope having decided  to unite "for the time being" the presidency of this Council with that of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. On that same day, the pope had united, according to the same modalities, the presidency of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue with that of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Thus he appointed Cardinal Paul Poupard new president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. This gesture had been interpreted by observers as a decision of Benedict XVI to place dialogue with Muslims more on the cultural than on the religious level.

Benedict XVI had organized a seminar at Castel Gandolfo on September 1st and 2nd, 2005. On that occasion he had emphasized the profound difference between Islam and Christianity. He had considered that the absoluteness of the Koran made dialogue difficult because its capacity for being interpreted seemed very limited. On July 24, in the Vale of Aosta, he had also suggested the difficulty of dialoguing with Islam, explaining that the doctrine of Islam was not uniform. "Certainly Islam contains elements in favor of peace, just as it contains other elements".