Viewing cable 06VATICAN157
Title: HOLY SEE: USCIRF MEETING WITH CARDINAL POUPARD ON

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06VATICAN1572006-07-31 16:32:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vatican
VZCZCXRO6056
RR RUEHBC RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHROV #0157 2121632
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 311632Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0432
INFO RUCNISL/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0460
C O N F I D E N T I A L VATICAN 000157 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  7/31/2016 
TAGS: PHUM VT
SUBJECT: HOLY SEE:  USCIRF MEETING WITH CARDINAL POUPARD ON 
CHRISTIAN-MUSLIM DIALOGUE 
 
REF: (a) vatican 156, (b) Vatican 067, (c) Vatican 021 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Christopher Sandrolini, Charge d'affaires a.i., 
EXEC, State. 
REASON: 1.4 (d) 
 
¶1. (C) Summary.  Bishop Ramirez of the USCIRF discussed 
Christian-Muslim dialogue with Cardinal Poupard on July 13. 
Poupard noted the impossibility of doctrinal dialogue with 
Islam, and the corresponding need to root that essential 
dialogue instead in the ground of culture.  Poupard focused on 
the need for dialogue to be concrete, specific, and local rather 
than abstract or general; and for the dialogue to involve "real" 
Muslims on the field of ideas, and to emphasize reciprocity. 
End summary. 
 
 
¶2. (SBU) Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of the US Commission on 
International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) called on Cardinal Paul 
Poupard, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, on 
July 13.  Ramirez was accompanied by charge d'affaires and by 
Scott Flipse, USCIRF advisor.  Ramirez described the nature of 
CIRF and the purpose of his visit (see ref a), and asked Poupard 
about Christian-Muslim dialogue. 
 
 
¶3. (C) Poupard said that Pope Benedict XVI had asked him to head 
the dicasteries of both Culture and Inter-Religious Dialogue, 
and they had a long discussion at the time.  It appeared, said 
Poupard, impossible to have a genuine doctrinal dialogue with 
Islam; it would be blasphemy for Muslims to talk of Jesus as 
God.  Nevertheless, it is important to carry out dialogue with 
the diverse world of Islam, and the pope considered the rubric 
of culture to be the appropriate field for this dialogue. 
According to Poupard, dialogue with Islam must emphasize 
"reciprocity" (not precisely defined, but in Vatican usage often 
meaning greater openness on the part of Muslim countries to 
Christian worship; must build on the terrain of ideas and 
philosophy (perhaps via universities) and mutual respect; must 
be specific and concrete, relating to actual issues and avoiding 
abstractions; must be with "real" Muslims (not powerless or 
marginal figures); and must focus on the local and particular. 
For example, Poupard praised a recent Brussels conference on 
ecology and environment at which he felt good contacts had been 
made with Muslims. 
 
 
¶4. (sbu) Expanding a bit on reciprocity, Poupard said that his 
theme for 20 years had been that true dialogue is only possible 
between free partners.  "We are all children of our culture, 
especially in Europe" he said; we have a common Greco-Roman 
heritage, and a heritage of Christian faith and respect for 
(any) religion.  Muslims have their respective heritage.  Only 
by acknowledging real similarities and differences at the outset 
could a genuine and sincere dialogue proceed. 
 
 
¶5.  (C) Asked what he would recommend to the USCIRF, Poupard 
again emphasized a focus on the concrete and realistic.  Don't, 
he urged, accept vague declarations such as "Islam is the most 
tolerant faith in the world".  Those who wish to enter Europe 
should respect it; religious conversion must be possible for 
all.  Poupard pressed the USCIRF to "tell Turkey to respect 
conditions for entry", complaining of an existing climate there 
of hate and suspicion toward Catholics.  Poupard said that the 
French Bishops Conference had written to Jacques Chirac with 
their concerns about Turkey but had received no reply -- which 
he found shocking. 
 
 
Comment 
-------------- 
¶6. (C) Poupard, elegant and precise, was gracious with Ramirez 
but did not mince words with regard to Islam, and Turkey in 
particular.  While it is thought that he will retire soon (he is 
75 now), his sharp views clearly symbolize a shift in emphasis 
from those of Archbishop Fitzgerald, the former head of 
Interreligious Dialogue, now in Cairo (see refs b and c). 
 
SANDROLINI