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Former Vatican official sees urgent need for dialogue with Islam

Catholic World News - May 03, 2011

A Vatican expert on relations with Islam has remarked on the urgent need for dialogue, underlined by the fresh tensions in the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden.

Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald told Vatican Radio that Pope John Paul II had been a great proponent of dialogue with Islam, and earned the respect of Muslim leaders. The newly beatified Pope, he said, stressed respect for other faiths. “No one could accuse John Paul II of being an un-fervent Christian, he was a missionary for the Church,” the archbishop said. “But at the same time he had this great respect of people of other religions, and they returned that respect.”

The archbishop reported that his own recent attempts to revive dialogue with Islamic leaders in Egypt have not met with success. “What I did say was that even if there is no dialogue with the Holy See, I would hope that dialogue would continue with Christians in Egypt,” he said. Archbishop Fitzgerald was appointed by Pope John Paul II as president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue. In February 2006, Pope Benedict XVI gave him a new assignment as apostolic nuncio to Egypt and Vatican representative to the Arab League. That move was widely seen as a demotion, reflecting a loss of the new Pope’s confidence.

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