French Prelates Offer Guide for Dialogue With Islam

Note Importance of Viewing Muslims With Esteem

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ROME, JUNE 13, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Since Benedict XVI considers interreligious dialogue a "vital necessity," the French bishops have added a doctrinal note to the efforts.



The French prelates released "How Christians and Muslims Speak of God" at the end of May, which aims to respond to questions that come from the faithful regarding the Christian and Muslim understanding of God.

The note was signed by that was signed by Archbishop Pierre-Marie Carré, president of the conference's doctrinal commission.

"Naïveté and caricatures can exist with regard to the Muslim and Catholic religions," Bishop Michel Santier of Creteil acknowledged in an interview published Monday by the episcopal conference. "They must be overcome with a reciprocal look of esteem."

Bishop Santier, director or the commission on interreligious dialogue, explained that the note arose from a working group established in 2006, called "Catholics and Muslims in Today's France."

According to the prelate, the note sets a foundation for effective and fruitful dialogue.

He explained: "'God looks on Muslims with esteem,' the note states. To enter into dialogue with them, we must also have a look of esteem toward them, and not address doctrinal issues alone. […] To believe that [dialogue] consists in being interested in common points and not in differences is an error. In true dialogue, the other's difference leads to reconfirming what is important for me, no longer in opposition but as something fruitful in the relationship."

Bishop Santier noted that in the coming months, another document will be published "to explain why the Church continues to engage in interreligious dialogue. This document joins the intention of Benedict XVI who, in an audience to representatives of Muslim communities in Cologne on Aug. 20, 2005, underlined that: 'Interreligious and intercultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is in fact a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends.'"