Catholic Islam expert gives Muslim dialogue letter high marks

October 17, 2007

Fr. Samir Khalil Samir, S.J.We noted here on Monday that the unprecedented appeal by 138 Muslim scholars for a real Christian-Muslim dialogue put the focus on how the Vatican would react. The only comment from Rome so far has been cautiously positive, saying it was “very interesting” and “encouraging” but going no further. Now one of the Catholic Church’s top experts on Islam has given his analysis — and he’s impressed by what he sees.

Father Samir Khalil Samir, S.J. is an Egyptian who heads the Research and Documentation Centre for Arab Christianity (CEDRAC ) at Saint Joseph’s University in Beirut. A genial polyglot whose native language is Arabic, he is as familiar with the Koran as the Bible and has written extensively about both religions. He was one of two Jesuit professors who lectured about Islam to Pope Benedict and the pope’s former PhD students (the so-called Ratzinger- Sch├╝lerkreis) at a private meeting in 2005. He can be both critical and sympathetic in his analyses, so a positive assessment from him carries weight.

“There is a lot of good in the document sent to Benedict XVI and Christian leaders,” reads the start of his analysis just published by the Rome-based Catholic news service He also points out what he calls “gaps and elements which provoke the need for deeper reflections.” Read the whole analysis here .

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