Islam not as tolerant as us: Cardinal
Too many Islamic countries treat their Christian minorities as second-class citizens, barring church building, while Western states let their Muslims build mosques freely, the former foreign minister of the Vatican, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran says in a widely reported article.
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who recently retired as the Vatican's foreign minister, told the French Catholic daily La Croix this week that Christianity and Islam faced "an enormous task" of learning to live together in mutual tolerance.
Cardinal Tauran was the latest and highest-ranking Catholic to worry about Vatican relations with Muslims, an issue seen as central for whoever succeeds Pope John Paul.
"There are too many majority Muslim countries where non-Muslims are second-class citizens," said Cardinal Tauran, the church's top diplomat for 13 years before he had to step aside when he was made a cardinal.
Stressing the need to respect minorities, he singled out "the extreme case of Saudi Arabia, where freedom of religion is violated absolutely - no Christian churches and a ban on celebrating Mass, even in a private home.
"Just like Muslims can build their houses of prayer anywhere in the world, the faithful of other religions should be able to do so as well," he said.
2 Jan 2004