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Vatican cardinal decries fear of Muslims, says Saudi Arabia should permit churches

Catholic World News - January 06, 2010

In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who served as the Vatican’s foreign minister from 1990 to 2003 and was appointed president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in 2007, has called upon all nations of the world to enshrine the right of religious freedom in their nation’s laws.

“Currently religious freedom is assured in various Muslim countries, for example in those of the [Persian] Gulf, with the exception of Saudi Arabia, where nearly two million Christians do not have any possibility of gathering for their celebrations or in order to pray … They feel tolerated rather than a partner in public dialogue. And this does not do anyone any good.”

Commenting on the recent Swiss referendum that banned the construction of new minarets, Cardinal Tauran said that “naturally it is necessary to harmonize construction with the atmosphere in which it comes to be a part, with the city landscape, the cultural context, and the complex of the laws and norms that regulate the life of the society.” However, he described as “alarming” the “feeling of fear” that was associated with the vote. Decrying ignorance of Islam, he said, “I wonder if these persons [who are afraid] know Muslims, if they have ever opened the Qur’an.”

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  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Jan. 06, 2010 8:41 PM ET USA

    What alternate universe does the cardinal inhabit? Even in the "most" tolerant of majority Muslim countries such as Turkey, churches cannot be repaired or replaced, any public appearance of non-Muslim religious symbols or media is punishable under law. Ask a Christian in any Muslim majority country what is the meaning of "fear".

  • Posted by: Steve214 - Jan. 06, 2010 4:27 PM ET USA

    I wonder if Cardinal Tauran has ever opened the Qur'an. If he had, he should know that it is not ignorance of Islam which produces deep concern--it is knowledge of Islam.

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