Vatican calls for talks on Crusades

VATICAN CITY, Feb. 17 -- Amid global anger over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, the Vatican's top mediator with Islam is pushing to heal long-festering wounds of history -- the Christian Crusades and the Muslim conquests of medieval Europe.

"It is a question that needs to be addressed. How do we read history? Can we read history together and come to some common understanding?" Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said in an interview Thursday (Feb. 16).

Fitzgerald, who is slated to leave his current position soon to become Pope Benedict XVI's ambassador to Egypt and the Arab League, also rejected a recent call from an Italian lawmaker for the Vatican to lead a showdown with Islam. Instead, Fitzgerald called for Vatican and Muslim scholars to examine the legacy of Christian-Muslim conflict to build historical consensus.

Addressing the theme of "Christianity and Islam, Yesterday and Today," Monsignor Walter Brandmuller, a top Vatican historian, said the true nature of the historical conflict had to be addressed for candid dialogue to begin.

Asked about his comments during an interview in January, Brandmuller said the two religions should avoid "political correctness" and address their differences out in the open.

"Dialogue cannot mean that I am looking for a middle ground between Islam and Christianity. I cannot question whether two plus two equals four or five." The goal of Christian-Muslim dialogue, he said, is not so much to reach consensus, but "to understand the issues so we can coexist peacefully."

Source: Beliefnet (English)

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