Viewing cable 08VATICAN5
Title: HOLY SEE: BUILDING ON "A COMMON WORD", VATICAN WILL HOST

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
08VATICAN52008-01-04 15:48:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vatican
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DE RUEHROV #0005 0041548
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041548Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0886
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNISL/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVE
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0920
C O N F I D E N T I A L VATICAN 000005 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  1/4/2018 
TAGS: PREL KIFR VT
SUBJECT: HOLY SEE:  BUILDING ON "A COMMON WORD", VATICAN WILL HOST 
MUSLIM DELEGATION IN THE SPRING FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUECAR 
 
REF: (a) VATICAN 003, (b) 07 Vatican 181 and previous 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Christopher Sandrolini, Charge d'affaires, EXEC, 
State. 
REASON: 1.4 (d) 
¶1. (C) Summary. The Holy See has announced that a delegation of 
Muslim scholars representing the 138 signatories of "A Common 
Word" will meet Vatican representatives in Rome this spring for 
a "historic" dialogue between the two faiths.  This is a 
dramatic development. The Catholics and Muslims involved have 
shown goodwill and courage in launching a potentially 
far-reaching dialogue, though both sides are certain to proceed 
with great caution.  End summary. 
 
¶2. (U) Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical 
Council for Interreligious Dialogue, gave an interview December 
30 to L'Osservatore Romano in which he announced that Catholic 
and Muslim representatives will meet in Rome this spring to 
start a "historic" dialogue between the two faiths.  The Muslim 
delegation will come on behalf of the 138 Muslim scholars who 
signed "A Common Word" (reftels) last fall; the document was 
addressed to the Pope and other Christian leaders and proposed 
just such a dialogue.  According to Tauran, the agenda for the 
spring meeting will include human dignity, interreligious 
dialogue based on reciprocal understanding, and teaching 
tolerance to young people.  The delegation will also meet with 
other Vatican entities, including the Pontifical Institute for 
Arab and Islamic Studies (PISAI). 
 
¶3. (U) Tauran also said three representatives of the 138 
scholars will come to Rome in February or March to prepare for 
the spring meeting.  Among these three will be Imam Yahya Sergio 
Yayhe Pallavicini (ref A) and Libyan theologian Aref Ali Nayed. 
Tauran himself is planning to travel to Cairo in February for 
meetings with scholars at the famed Al-Azhar university there; 
he will also travel to Libya to visit the World Islamic call 
Society, and to Jordan to visit the Royal Institute for 
Inter-Faith Studies in Amman. 
 
Comment 
---------------- 
¶4. (C) This is a significant and dramatic development.  Just 
over a year ago, Pope Benedict XVI's relations with the Muslim 
world were in jeopardy following his Regensburg lecture (in 
which he quoted a Byzantine emperor's harsh words about the 
Prophet Mohammed).  The Pope regained some ground with his 
gracious gestures during his December 2006 visit to Turkey.  The 
138 Muslim scholars who signed "A Common Word" were following up 
on an earlier letter to the Pope, signed by 38 of them, which 
was a polite but serious response to the Regensburg lecture. 
Now there is unquestionable commitment by the Holy See and the 
Muslim scholars to undertake a long-term dialogue which can 
perhaps aspire to follow in the footsteps of the successful 
Catholic-Jewish dialogue begun decades ago.  Tauran's journeys 
to Egypt, Libya, and Jordan are themselves highly significant 
and should do much to set the stage for an even broader dialogue. 
 
¶5. (C) While the goodwill and courage of both sides are 
undeniable, both will proceed with great caution; the desire for 
dialogue is paramount, but trust can only be developed slowly. 
The 138 scholars are important, but cannot claim to speak for 
the entire Muslim world, and even internally they differ on key 
issues.  Similarly, the Holy See is not united on how welcoming 
to be to the Muslim initiative.  The two sides have work to do 
on defining the terms of reference for their dialogue; for 
example, some insist that theological dialogue is impossible and 
that only cultural and ethical concerns can be usefully 
discussed, while others are more ambitious with regard to 
doctrine and basic beliefs.  Underlying the entire effort, of 
course, is the unspoken but universally recognized issue of 
religious violence and terrorism.  This theme will probably be 
addressed only obliquely, given its sensitivity and "political" 
rather than religious character, but it will influence all 
discussions. 
 
SANDROLINI