03/06/2008, 00.00
INDIA - VATICAN - ISLAM
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Bishop Dabre: trust and friendship, the basis of dialogue between Christians and Muslims

by Nirmala Carvalho
The bishop of Vasai, president of the Indian bishops' commission for doctrine, comments to AsiaNews on the new forum of dialogue between Catholics and Muslims approved yesterday at the Vatican. In India, the relationship is good because "it is based on social interaction founded upon friendship".

Vasai (AsiaNews) - Only "trust and friendship can improve relations with Islam, because people of good will appreciate any initiative aimed at improving dialogue between Catholics and Muslims".  These remarks come to AsiaNews from the president of the Indian bishops' commission for doctrine, Bishop Thomas Dabre, who adds: "What has happened in recent days in this area can only bring us greater hope".

The reference is to the visit to the Vatican of a delegation of Muslim leaders who signed the open letter to Christian leaders "A common word between us and you", which took place last March 4-5 at the pontifical council for interreligious dialogue.  At the end of the meeting, the parties announced the creation of a Catholic-Muslim forum, which will meet for the first time in Rome next November 6-8.

The meeting of the forum - created "to develop even further the dialogue between Catholics and Muslims" - will be attended by 24 religious leaders and scholars from each side.  The theme of the encounter will be "Love of God, love of neighbour": over the two days of the meetings, participants will discuss "Theological and spiritual foundations" and "Human dignity and reciprocal respect".  At the end, the participants will meet with Benedict XVI.

In India, the bishop of Vasai continues, "large numbers of  Muslim students study in the educational institutions of the Church. There are Muslims working in the institutions run by the Church and vice versa. Finally, all of the charitable organisations of the Church work for everyone, and the Muslims understand this: in this way, better relationships are created, built on trust and friendship".

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