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Islamic university hopes for dialogue with Vatican under Pope Francis

Catholic World News - March 15, 2013

Egypt’s Al Azhar University, the world’s leading institution of Sunni Muslim thought, is hoping for a resumption of dialogue with the Vatican as Pope Francis takes the helm.

Representatives of Al Azhar were actively engaged in dialogue with the Holy See until January 2011, when the Egyptian institution broke off formal ties to protest public statements in which Pope Benedict XVI had decried violence against Egypt’s Christian minority. Sheik Ahmed El Tayyeb, the head of Al Azhar, condemned the Pope’s statement as “unacceptable interference into Egypt’s affairs.”

A spokesman for Al Azhar said that the Islamic university is now looking for a positive signal from Pope Francis. The university was hoping that Pope Benedict would issue a statement that Islam “is not a violent religion,” he said, but the former Pope’s failure to satisfy that request made it impossible to resume dialogue.

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