VATICAN CITY – Catholics and Muslims must learn more about each other’s religions if they want to get along better, said the Vatican ambassador in Egypt and former president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
“Rather than just knowing persons, we must know their religion more deeply in order to understand the people,” Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald told Vatican Radio.
The archbishop was interviewed Feb. 24, the evening before the annual Catholic-Muslim dialogue meeting of Vatican representatives with representatives of Cairo’s al-Azhar University.
“We know that among Muslims and Christians there are common points, although certainly not a common faith in Christ,” Archbishop Fitzgerald said. “We must respect the differences while trying to find spheres in which it would be possible to collaborate and help one another.”
The dialogue with the Cairo-based university, a point of reference for many Muslims around the world, was marking its 10th annual session.
Archbishop Fitzgerald said the theme chosen for the meeting was “Faith in God and Love for One’s Neighbor as a Foundation for Interreligious Dialogue.”
“I hope that this can give a new impulse to relations between Christians and Muslims in the world,” he said.
Pointing to the October letter of 138 Muslim scholars to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders, the archbishop said there are signs that Muslims are increasingly interested in dialogue with Christians.
“It makes me very happy to see their initiative,” he said. And the fact that the scholars’ letter focused on love of God and love of neighbor, two key points for Christians, “gives new hope for reaching a deeper dialogue.”