Benedict Plans to Meet With Muslim Leaders

'Historic' spring summit seeks to mend rift after 2006 controversy
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2008 11:59 AM CST
Pope Benedict XVI holds the pastoral staff during a mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2008. The Pontiff opened the New Year on with an appeal for world peace, calling it a...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – Catholic and Muslim leaders plan a "historic" meeting at the Vatican this spring, reports the AP, a year and a half after Pope Benedict's controversial comments about the Prophet Muhammad. Benedict proposed the meeting in response to an open letter from 138 Muslim scholars that urged interfaith dialogue based on common belief in a single god.

The talks will focus primarily on interfaith dialogue, teaching tolerance to the young, and respect for individual dignity. In September 2006 the pope angered many Muslims by citing a medieval theologian who characterized some of Muhammad's teachings as "evil and inhuman." The resulting storm of protest forced the pontiff to backtrack, saying he was "deeply sorry."