Pope Benedict has accepted an unprecedented call by Muslim scholars for dialogue between Christians and Islam, inviting them for meetings in Vatican City, the Vatican said on Thursday.

Some 138 Muslim scholars wrote to the German-born Pontiff and other Christian leaders last month, saying “the very survival of the world itself” may be depend on dialogue.

The Pontiff, who as head of the Catholic Church represents more than half of the world’s two billion Christians, praised the scholars’ “call for a common commitment to promoting peace”.

“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 Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone.

The Vatican letter was dated November 19, but only released on Thursday. Most other Christian leaders had already responded positively, and although the Vatican’s upbeat reply was expected, it was not a given.

The Vatican’s top official for relations with Islam — Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran — had expressed doubt both faiths could agree on such issues as God, love and how to read sacred scripture. This led to concern the opportunity could be lost. (MORE)

 

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