ZENIT, The world seen from Rome
Pope's Response to Muslim Scholars' Letter
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We Can and Therefore Should Look to What Unites Us
Nov. 19, 2007
His Royal Highness
Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal
The Royal Palace
From the Vatican, November 19, 2007
Your Royal Highness,
On 13 October 2007 an open letter addressed to His Holiness Pope Benedict
XVI and to other Christian leaders was signed by one hundred and thirty-eight
Muslim religious leaders, including Your Royal Highness. You, in turn, were
kind enough to present it to Bishop Salim Sayegh, Vicar of the Latin Patriarch
of Jerusalem in Jordan, with the request that it be forwarded to His Holiness.
The Pope has asked me to convey his gratitude to Your Royal Highness and
to all who signed the letter. He also wishes to express his deep appreciation
for this gesture, for the positive spirit which inspired the text and for
the call for a common commitment to promoting peace in the world.
Without ignoring or downplaying our differences as Christians and Muslims,
we can and therefore should look to what unites us, namely, belief in the
one God, the provident Creator and universal Judge who at the end of time
will deal with each person according to his or her actions. We are all called
to commit ourselves totally to him and to obey his sacred will.
Mindful of the content of his Encyclical Letter "Deus Caritas Est" (God is
Love), His Holiness was particularly impressed by the attention given in
the letter to the twofold commandment to love God and one's neighbour.
As you may know, at the beginning of his Pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI stated:
"I am profoundly convinced that we must not yield to the negative pressures
in our midst, but must affirm the values of mutual respect, solidarity and
peace. The life of every human being is sacred, both for Christians and for
Muslims. There is plenty of scope for us to act together in the service of
fundamental moral values" (Address to Representatives of Some Muslim Communities,
Cologne, 20 August 2005). Such common ground allows us to base dialogue on
effective respect for the dignity of every human person, on objective knowledge
of the religion of the other, on the sharing of religious experience and,
finally, on common commitment to promoting mutual respect and acceptance
among the younger generation. The Pope is confident that, once this is achieved,
it will be possible to cooperate in a productive way in the areas of culture
and society, and for the promotion of justice and peace in society and throughout
With a view to encouraging your praiseworthy initiative, I am pleased to
communicate that His Holiness would be most willing to receive Your Royal
Highness and a restricted group of signatories of the open letter, chosen
by you. At the same time, a working meeting could be organized between your
delegation and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, with the
cooperation of some specialized Pontifical Institutes (such as the Pontifical
Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies and the Pontifical Gregorian University).
The precise details of these meetings could be decided later, should this
proposal prove acceptable to you in principle.
I avail myself of the occasion to renew to Your Royal Highness the assurance
of my highest consideration.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State
[Original text: English]