Following today's general audience, Benedict XVI received a group of Iranian Muslims who have been meeting biannually for the last 12 years with the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue. The dialogue between the Vatican and the Muslim group resulted in an agreement on faith and reason, violence and religion and the method for dialogue.
The Vatican is being represented in the discussions by a delegation led by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, while the president of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization of Tehran, Iran is leading their group. Representatives from both groups have been holding meetings in Rome to study the theme of: "Faith and Reason in Christianity and Islam".
During the course of the discussions, which came to a close on Wednesday, the two delegations agreed upon the following points:
1. "Faith and reason are both gifts of God to mankind."
2. "Faith and reason do not contradict each other, but faith might in some cases be above reason, but never against it."
3. "Faith and reason are intrinsically non-violent. Neither reason nor faith should be used for violence; unfortunately, both of them have been sometimes misused to perpetrate violence. In any case, these events cannot question either reason or faith."
4. "Both sides agreed to further co-operate in order to promote genuine religiosity, in particular spirituality, to encourage respect for symbols considered to be sacred and to promote moral values."
5. "Christians and Muslims should go beyond tolerance, accepting differences, while remaining aware of commonalties and thanking God for them. They are called to mutual respect, thereby condemning derision of religious beliefs."
6. "Generalization should be avoided when speaking of religions. Differences of confessions with Christianity and Islam, diversity of historical contexts are important factors to be considered."
7. "Religious traditions cannot be judged on the basis of a single verse or a passage present in their respective holy Books. A holistic vision as well as an adequate hermeneutical method is necessary for a fair understanding of them".
Speaking with the Iranian news agency IRNA after a meeting with Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, the head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Mostafavi said that the two had discussed other ways to improve dialogue between Catholics and Muslims.
One of the ideas under discussion included holding meetings dedicated to religious-themed theatre and cinema. Another proposal floated in the meeting was to facilitate exchanges between scientific institutes and universities linked to the Catholic Church and Shia research centers in Iran.