Pope to Receive Delegation from the 138 Muslim Signatories

Source: FSSPX News


On December 30, in the Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, announced an “historical meeting” to take place next Spring between Benedict XVI and a delegation from the 138 Muslims. Three representatives will go to Rome beforehand, in February or March, to organize it. Among them will be Yahya Sergio Yahe Pallavicini, imam of the al-Wahid Mosque in Milan, and the Libyan theologian Aref Ali Nayend, professor at Cambridge, and former teacher at the Pontifical Institute of Arabic Studies and Islamology in Rome.

The Prince of Jordan Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal, sent a letter dated December 12 to Cardinal Taricisio Bertone, Secretary of State of the Holy See. Here we cite its main points.

The Jordanian Prince specified that he had contacted and consulted a number of the senior Muslims and religious scholars who had signed or have since supported the Open Letter. “ They have graciously consented to my co-ordinating this affair on their behalf. Thus I can now respond, on their behalf and on my own, as follows: (…) We do accept, in principle, the dialogue that you have proposed and the general concept and arrangements. We will, however, send at your convenience in February or March 2008, God Willing, three representatives to work out with Your Eminence or Your Eminence’s representatives the details of the arrangements and the procedures. (…) We thus understand that the ’intrinsic’ dimension of this particular Catholic-Muslim dialogue of ours will be based, God Willing, on our letter « A Common Word » – which, as you know, is essentially an affirmation of the One God, and of the twofold commandment to love Him and one’s neighbour – even if it transpires that there are differences between us in the interpretation or comprehension of the text of this letter, each in accordance with their own religious sensibilities and traditions. These differences themselves are presumably also a matter for discussion between us, and should be an occasion for mutual respect and celebration, and not divisive disputation. (…)

“Our vision of dialogue was expressed exactly by the Communiqué of some of the Muslim delegates on the occasion of the encounter « For a World without Violence Religions and Cultures in Dialogue », (Naples, 21-23 October 2007, at the community of Saint Egidio), which said :

« Dialogue is by definition between people of different views, not people of the same views. Dialogue is not about imposing one’s views on the other side, nor deciding oneself what the other side is and is not capable of, nor even of what the other side believes. Dialogue starts with an open hand and an open heart. It proposes but does not set an agenda unilaterally. It is about listening to the other side, as it speaks freely for itself, as well as about expressing one’s own self. Its purpose is to see where there is common ground in order to meet there and thereby make the world better, more peaceful, more harmonious and more loving.’

“Our motive for dialogue is essentially one of wanting to seek goodwill and justice in order to practice what we Muslims call rahmah (and what you may be pleased to call caritas) in order thereby to seek in turn Rahmah from God. The Prophet Muhammad said : « He who does not show mercy, will not be shown Mercy » (Sahih Bukhari, Kitab Al-Adab, no. 6063).

“Finally, our method of dialogue is in accordance with the Divine Commandment in the Holy Qur’an : « Do not contend with the people of the Scripture except in the fairest way, save those of them that inflict wrong (and injury); but say, We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and the revelation which has come down to you and your God and our God is One, and unto Him we surrender’ » (Al-Ankabut, 29:46).

“We trust, of course, that you have a similar general attitude towards dialogue since we happily read (in 1 Corinthians 13:1-6) the words of St. Paul :

« Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. / And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge ; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. / And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. / Charity suffereth long, and is kind ; charity envieth not ; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, / Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil ; / Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth. »

I mention these last things only in view of some recent pronouncements emerging from the Vatican and from Vatican advisors – which cannot have escaped the notice of Your Eminence – as regards the very principle of theological dialogue with Muslims. Howbeit, although many of us consider these pronouncements as having been superseded by your letter, we nevertheless wish to reiterate to you that we, like you, also consider complete theological agreement between Christians and Muslims inherently not possible by definition, but still wish to seek and promote a common stance and co-operation based upon what we do agree on (as mentioned above) - whether we wish to call this kind of dialogue ’theological’ or ’spiritual’ or something else - for the sake of the common good and towards the good of the whole world, God Willing.” (Source: chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it)