Vatican cardinal says world obsessed by Islam
Jun 11, 2008
The world is obsessed by Islam, according to the Vatican's point man for relations with other religions.
VATICAN CITY, June 11 (Reuters) - Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran also said he did not want an impression to grow that there are different classes of religion.
Tauran's department, the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, oversees relations with all non-Christian religions except Judaism and is preparing new guidelines for Catholic dialogue with them.
The new guidelines will not have special emphasis on Islam, Tauran said in an interview with the religious website terrasanta.net which specialises in Holy Land affairs.
"No, it has to have regard for all religions. What was interesting about our discussions was that we did not concentrate on Islam because in a way we are being held hostage by Islam a little bit," he said.
"Islam is very important but there are also other great Asiatic religious traditions. Islam is one religion," he said.
"Yes, the people are obsessed by Islam."
Tauran said he would be travelling to India soon and there he wanted to "give this message that all religions are equal".
"Sometimes there are priorities because of particular situations, but we mustn't get the impression there are first-class religions and second-class religions".
In March, the Vatican and Muslim leaders agreed to establish a permanent official dialogue, known as "The Catholic-Muslim Forum", to improve often difficult relations and heal wounds still open from a controversial papal speech in 2006.
Catholic-Muslim relations nosedived after Pope Benedict delivered a lecture in Regensburg, Germany, that was taken by Muslims to imply Islam was violent and irrational.
CHURCH IN SAUDI ARABIA?
Muslims around the world protested and the pope sought to make amends when he visited Turkey's Blue Mosque and prayed towards Mecca with its Imam.
Tauran declined to discuss what he knew of reports of talks between the Vatican and Saudi Arabia aimed at eventually opening a Church there. In March, official Saudi media said King Abdullah, who held an unprecedented meeting with Pope Benedict last year, planned to launch an effort at dialogue between Islam, Christianity and Judaism to help end inter-religious tension.
There are 1.2 million Christians in Saudia Arabia, nearly a million of them Catholics. Most are migrant workers and are not allowed to practice their faith in public or wear signs of their faith.
Tauran said he believed talk of building a church in Saudi Arabia was "premature". He expected a gradual evolution that would start by Christians being allowed to hold services in hotels or embassies.
Tauran described the falling Christian population in the Holy Land because of instability and conflict as "a disaster because the place where Christ lived, died and rose again could become a museum, and this is precisely what we don't want".