Pope talks Islam dialogue with world's cardinals

Benedict XVI and most of the world's cardinals yesterday sat down for closed-door discussions on administrative and pastoral matters, including dialogue with Islam.

Catholic News Service reports that the pope presided over the day of reflection and prayer, the day before he was to hold a public consistory to induct 15 new cardinals. The cardinals-to-be, dressed in bishops' purple, were also invited to the meeting in the Vatican's synod hall.

According to a Vatican press statement there was no formal agenda, but in an opening talk the pope mentioned three specific concerns for discussion. They are: the condition of retired bishops; the question raised by the renegade Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre; and questions connected with the dialogue between the church and Islam.

The pope invited the cardinals to raise other issues of their own and said the exchange should take place in a spirit of unity and communion.

In the morning session, several cardinals spoke about recent Vatican efforts to reconcile with the followers of the late Archbishop Lefebvre, founder of the priestly Society of Saint Pius X, one cardinal told CNS.

Among those who spoke was Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, head of the Congregation for Clergy, who has spearheaded a recent move to bring the Lefebvrites back into communion with the church.

Another topic raised by the pope was the possibility of an enhanced role in the church for retired bishops. One bishop suggested raising the retirement age from the current limit of 75 years.

The discussion on Islam was scheduled for later in the day.

"It was worthwhile and helpful," New York Cardinal Edward M Egan said after the morning session.

"The Holy Father spoke, but mainly let the cardinals who stood up speak," Cardinal Egan said. Others said the pope at times encouraged comments from cardinals from different geographical areas, making sure that no region was left out of the discussion.

"The atmosphere was very friendly and offered many opportunities for interaction with the cardinals," said Cardinal William H Keeler of Baltimore.

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, said before the meeting that he expected the cardinals to examine global issues like racism, immigration, economic ethics and the need for education in tolerance.

Asked by the Rome newspaper La Repubblica about rumors that the pope was thinking of writing a social encyclical, Cardinal Rodriguez said he hoped an eventual encyclical would address the widespread greed and individualism in today's world.

German Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said he intended to speak at the meeting about ecumenical progress and the difficult but necessary dialogue with Islam.

It was the pope's idea to convene the meeting, and Vatican sources said it signalled a strong advisory role for the world's cardinals under the new pontificate.

Pope, cardinals discuss several issues, including dialogue with Islam (Catholic News Service 23/3/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Ordinary Public Consistory
The College of Cardinals

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24 Mar 2006