Vatican official laments little impact of talks with Muslims
Ordinary citizens in Muslim nations remain mostly unaware of recent re-conciliatory talks between Roman Catholic and Muslim representatives, a top Vatican official said Thursday, dpa reported.
"The improvement of relations, the atmosphere in which these high- level discussions are held, still don't have an impact on the Muslim masses," Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran told Vatican Radio.
"This, in my opinion is the big problem: how to make (the dialogue) from the top reach down to the base," he said.
Tauran, who heads the Vatican's department responsible for relations with Muslims, this week participated in talks in Rome with a delegation from the Cairo-based Al-Azhar Academy for Islamic Research.
Participants issued a eight-point declaration in which they stated that clerics from both religions must promote peace, justice and equality as a basis for resolving sectarian and other conflicts in the modern world.
Tauran said the talks and similar initiatives, including a Catholic-Muslim seminar held in Rome in November and one in Madrid in July 2008, were positive signs that "dialogue is continuing."
But Tauran he also said he was "saddened" by the lack of media coverage these meetings received in Arab and Muslim countries.
"For example in Indonesia, a mostly Muslim nation, it was not spoken about at all, " he said, referring to November meeting in Rome.
The Rome meeting which included top clerics and theologians from both religions, stemmed from an international appeal by top Muslim scholars seeking to improve relations with the Christian world.
The Vatican has embraced such initiatives in what has been widely seen as its attempt to reach out to Muslims since Pope Benedict XVI's controversial 2006 speech in Regensburg, Germany in which he appeared to associate Islam with violence.