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Vatican official hopes to revive dialogue with Al Azhar

Catholic World News - January 28, 2011

Despite the decision by Al Azhar University to break off talks with the Holy See, the president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue plans to pursue all opportunities for dialogue with Islam.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran says that he hopes that talks with Al Azhar can be revived quickly, adding that his desk calendar still calls for a meeting with the Egyptian Islamic leaders in February.

The French-born cardinal underlined the Vatican’s insistence that the Muslim leaders had misinterpreted Pope Benedict’s message to diplomatic leaders, perhaps because of an improper translation provided by the Al Jazeera television network. “I think a careful reading of the words of Benedict XVI’s message for World Day of Peace 2011, and his speech to the diplomatic corps on January 10, would help dispel the misunderstandings,” Cardinal Tauran said.”

Cardinal Tauran—who has extensive background in diplomacy, having previously served as the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States—denied that he is being overly optimistic in thinking that talks can resume. “I would say that I am a realist,” he said. He hinted that Vatican officials are already pursuing informal discussions with Al Azhar, hoping to remove any misunderstandings.

Cardinal Tauran accentuated the need for inter-religious dialogue today, saying: “In a dangerous world so full of walls of separation, physical or moral, I think it is more than ever necessary that religions, despite their differences, together promote love and peace.”

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