VATICAN CITY – Vatican officials met with Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Saud Al Faisal, to discuss ideas that came out of a major interreligious meeting in Spain last year.
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, met with the prince and his delegation at the Vatican June 5. Three other members of the Vatican interreligious council were part of the closed-door deliberations.
During the meeting, Vatican officials and the Saudi delegation exchanged ideas that came out of the World Conference of Dialogue in Spain in 2008 that had been initiated by Saudi Arabian King Abdullah Aziz, said a Vatican press release June 6.
The world conference had been organized by the Muslim World League and brought together representatives of the major monotheistic religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism and Shintoism, and hundreds of religious, political and cultural figures. The conference addressed common concerns for all religions, such as morality and protecting the environment, while shunning talk of religious theology and politics.
Cardinal Tauran gave the closing remarks at the three-day conference in Spain.
The Vatican and Saudi Arabia do not have formal diplomatic ties, but King Abdullah met with Pope Benedict XVI in November 2007, the first such meeting between a pope and a reigning Saudi monarch.
The public practice of religions other than Islam in Saudi Arabia is forbidden and the Vatican has repeatedly defended the importance of religious liberty and the public profession of all faiths.