Imam of Al-Azhar says he will meet with Pope Benedict

.- The imam of the Islamic university Al-Azhar in Cairo, the highest seat of Sunni learning, is expected to meet with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican March 22, AKI has reported.

The leading Muslim cleric, Sheikh Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, acknowledged that there is the will on the part of the Holy See “to resume the work of inter-religious dialogue and overcome the chilly climate determined by the words of the Pope in his speech in Regensburg, Germany, [last September]," reported AKI.

During a visit to Cairo last month, Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, extended the invitation to the leading Muslim cleric on the Pope's behalf.

The university of Al-Azhar has a permanent committee for dialogue with monotheistic religions, which has been active for eight years. Its mandate is to promote cooperation and understanding between various religious faiths. However, its work was suspended after the Pope’s controversial Regensburg address.

A joint Catholic-Islamic commission for dialogue was founded after Pope John Paul II visited al-Azhar in February 2000.  The commission meets annually.

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