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    Saturday, July 08, 2006

    Walking across the bridge

    "Pope John Paul met with Muslims more than 60 times over the course of his pontificate, and his hope was to build bridges," Allen said. "Pope Benedict, on the other hand, seems to believe those bridges have been built, and now it's time to walk across them."


    Rather than seeing dialogue with other religions as a way to iron out doctrinal differences, an oftentimes impossible task, Pope Benedict sees interreligious dialogue as a means of establishing common values and finding common cause in the fight against secularization and injustice.

    Accordingly, Pope Benedict's dialogue with Muslims has thus far centered on questions of culture and human rights, rather than theology.

    Father Samir noted it also reflects the pope's recognition of a traditional stumbling block in Muslim-Christian dialogue: Islam's inability to conceive of the separation of church and state according to traditional Western formulas.

    "Whenever we try and dialogue with Muslims, always the discussion will move from religion to cultural, social, even political questions," said Father Samir. "The Muslims will ask the Christians about Israel, or colonialism, or even the Crusades.


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