VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican and Sunni Islam’s leading institution of higher learning have begun looking for ways to restart formal dialogue.
Acting on Pope Francis’ expressed desire, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue was sending a top-level official to Cairo to visit al-Azhar University, the council said in a written press release July 12.
Spanish Bishop Miguel Ayuso Guixot, secretary of the pontifical council, will attend a “preliminary meeting” July 13 with Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk, a member of the university’s Council of Senior Scholars and director of the al-Azhar Center for Dialogue. Archbishop Bruno Musaro, the apostolic nuncio to Egypt, was to also attend the meeting.
The meeting, which was requested by the pontifical council following the pope’s “expressed desire, will evaluate how to begin the resumption of dialogue between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and al-Azhar University,” the press release said.
The encounter follows the landmark meeting at the Vatican May 23 between Pope Francis and the university’s grand imam, Ahmad el-Tayeb.
It was the first meeting between a pontiff and a grand imam after five years of tension and top-level silence since the Muslim university in Cairo suspended talks in 2011.