The president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, warned this week of the difficulties posed by inter-religious dialogue with Muslims, since they “do not accept discussions about the Koran, because they say it was written under the dictates of God.”
In an interview with the French daily La Croix, Cardinal Tauran said that currently inter-religious dialogue can take place “with some religions, yes. But with Islam, not at this time. Muslims do not accept discussion about the Koran, because they say it was written under the dictates of God. With such an absolutist interpretation, it’s difficult to discuss the contents of the faith.”
Referring to the recent letter sent by 138 Muslim leaders to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders about inter-religious dialogue, Cardinal Tauran said, “If believers were consistent with their faith, the world could be different. Because wars are not caused by religions, but by men,” he said.
The cardinal noted that religions are often attacked because terrorists use them to justify their actions. “Religion inspires fear, therefore, because it is perverted by terrorism,” as in the case of Muslim extremists.
Catholics should not hide what they stand for, but should rather “clearly manifest what we believe.” The cardinal also said that Catholics should be able to find common ground with Muslims in the areas of respect for human life, the family and the value of religion in education.”
The French cardinal also explained that it is important that “in dialogue between believers, it is stated that what is good for one is good for the other. It should be explained to Muslims, for example, that if they are allowed to have Mosques in Europe, it is normal for churches to be allowed to be built in their countries.”
Cardinal Tauran noted that Benedict XVI “has explained that we share with Muslims and Jews a common treasure which is the Ten Commandments. In addition, the Pope generally explains how our dialogue should be: we should be ready to give an account for the hope that is in us; and on the basis of our common values, we should consider every believer as our neighbor and not as an adversary or competitor.”