A three-day historic Muslim-Catholic summit will open today in Vatican City. To attend the talks are 48 religious leaders and scholars from the two faiths or 24 representatives each.
Leading the Muslim side is the Grand Mufti of Bosnia Reisu-l-ulema Mustafa Ef. Ceric, while the Catholics will be headed by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.
According to Cardinal Tauran, the summit starts a new chapter in the long history of dialogue between the two major religions of the world. There are about 1.3 billion Muslims and 1 billion Catholics throughout the world.
Aside from seeking to establish a better inter-faith communication, the dialogue seeks to defuse future tensions between Muslims and Catholics, which soured after Pope Benedict offended Islam in his speech in 2006. The pontiff’s speech sparked outrage in the Muslim world.
It also led Muslim scholars to seek a theological dialogue with the Pope, called the Common Word. The appeal has over 250 signatories.
Aside from the papal speech, Muslim leaders pointed to the publication of offending cartoons in a Danish daily in 2005 depicting the Messenger of God, Prophet Muhammad, as another reason behind the growing gap between the two faiths.
Today the main topic will be God’s love, while neighbor’s love will be discussed Wednesday. On Thursday the delegates will meet Pope Benedict.