Catholic, Muslim talks welcomed

Tom Heneghan

Tom Heneghan

PARIS - The top Vatican official for Islam has praised a novel Muslim call for dialogue, but said real theological debate was difficult as Muslims saw the Kuran as the literal word of God and would not discuss it in depth.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, in an interview at the weekend with the French Catholic daily La Croix, also said Christians would have to discuss curbs on building churches in the Islamic world.

His interview, coming after mostly positive comments by other Catholic Islam experts, signalled the world's largest Christian church wanting a serious dialogue with Muslims that did not avoid some fundamental issues dividing the religions.

"Muslims do not accept that one can discuss the Kuran in depth, because they say it was written by dictation from God," Tauran said. "With such an absolute interpretation, it is difficult to discuss the contents of faith."

The fact that Muslims can build mosques in Europe while many Islamic states limit or ban church-building cannot be ignored, he said. - Reuters