Two months after a galaxy of Muslim scholars and luminaries sent a letter to all Christian religious leaders worldwide, Roman Catholic cardinals say the Vatican will have a positive response in the near future.
“The Vatican will respond positively, and quite soon,” Dakar Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr was reported as saying on November 25, during a ceremony to install 23 new members of the College of Cardinals. “We will not miss this opportunity.”
Early October, 138 Muslim scholars and dignitaries addressed an open letter to the world’s Christian clergy, including Pope Benedict XVI, for dialogue based on common essentials between Islam and Christianity.
Themed “A Common Word Between Us and You”, the 29-page letter (www.acommonword.com) cites verses from the Qur’an and the Bible on similarities between the two Abrahamic faiths.
The Muslim call has already won plaudits from many non-Catholic leaders, including Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Lutheran World Federation head Bishop Mark Hanson, World Council of Churches head Rev. Samuel Kobia and US Presbyterian Church head Clifton Kirkpatrick.
Several leading theologians, including Catholics, have already given the initiative the thump-up.
But the Vatican, which represents more than half the world’s two billion Christians, has not yet officially answered to the Muslim call. “Watch out for this week,” said a veteran cardinal, requesting anonymity.
Sarr said the Vatican planned to invite a small group of the letter signatories for exploratory talks on the way forward. “There will be a meeting with them to clarify what they want to do. “After that, we’ll see what we can do.”
Catholic cardinals and experts on Islam see the Muslim initiative as a milestone. “This is an opportunity the Lord has given us and put into the hearts of people to work together,” said Mumbai Cardinal Oswald Gracias. “All of us (cardinals) are very happy.”