Radio Vatikan: Dialogjahr 2008
2008 - also the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. Background: Europe is the test laboratory of the extent to which a religion (or culture), such as Islam with their own way of life can integrate into an enlightened Western society. The Vatican is presently, behind the scenes, giving much energy to the encounter with Islam, as Stefan Kempis knows and reports.
Initially, after the Regensburg speech by the Pope, the period of quiet in 2005. Then last autumn, the letter of Islamic scholars to Christian church leaders was published, and since then the dialogue between Christianity and Islam has acquired an unexpected momentum. The Saudi King, guardian of the Holy Places of Islam, visited the Pope, and sometime in 2008, a delegation of Islamic scholars will speak with the Pope in the Vatican - with the backing of the Saudi king, as various media are reporting. Such significant movement has rarely been found in inter- religious dialogue.
"The Pope has invited all to have the courage, to be open to reason," said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican official responsible for Inter-Religious Dialogue. "He recalled in his Regensburg lecture that it is contrary to the nature of God, to act against reason. That is the basis on which we who are involved in inter-religious dialogue follow in the steps of the spirit of the Divine."
Regensburg - the Pope's speech evolved from stumbling block to a new impetus in inter-faith and, beyond that, intercultural dialogue. In the Vatican, there is an understanding that the politicians in the proclamation of the European Year of Inter-cultural Dialogue treat the theme broadly ... and not only narrowing it to the religious aspect. On this, Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, the new head of the Pontifical Council culture:
"When you talk about religion, you have to think about things through the cultural issue. Strictly speaking, we must even come to a new cultural understanding which is closely connected with the religious one. Culture, in this sense, is understood as a reflection on people. Thus, religion is an all-encompassing presence, acting closely with all inter-woven cultural issues, especially with the question of people by way of their personal life and, more generally, through time ... "
The church has had, according to Ravasi, a long experience in terms of intercultural dialogue a long experience.
"Much can result from this year, which the European Council of Ministers in Strasbourg has decided on. The Faith speaks about the dimensions of humanity - of a humanism, which does not destroy culture, but rather enriches it."