Karl Cardinal Lehmann Karl Cardinal Lehmann
Bishop of Mainz, Germany
Cardinal Priest of San Leone I
May 16, 1936
Feb 21, 2001
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English Dialogue is the answer to Islamic challenge
Oct 15, 2005
The Catholic Church should answer the challenge of Islam by redoubling efforts at dialogue, according to Cardinal Karl Lehmann.

Rome, Oct. 10 (CWNews.com) - The president of the German bishops' conference, speaking to the Italian daily La Stampa , voiced his regret that "we know very little about the great cultural and technological discoveries made by Islam, about its mystique, its architecture." He concluded that "the West has often underestimated the more valuable elements of Islam."

Cardinal Lehmann said that engaging in serious dialogue with Islam would help to "break down quite a few prejudices." He suggested that it would be productive to understand the differences between Muslims and Christians on matters such as human rights, the role of violence in religion, and the methods of resolving conflicts and contradictions.

The actual dialogue between Christianity and Islam is only in the beginning stages, the German cardinal remarked. He urged a concerted effort to intensify talks, rather than "lose still more previous time."

In Europe, meanwhile, Cardinal Lehmann observed that contemporary religious trends include the rise of "a type of superstitution that we thought we had left behind." He recommended careful efforts to distinguish between authentic and false religious beliefs. "Nothing is more important than the discernment of true religious belief," he said.

Questioned on whether the election of Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) signaled a desire among the cardinals to place a higher priority on the status of Christianity in Europe, Cardinal Lehmann expressed reservations. "Rome has been looking toward the other continents for a long time," he said. He cautioned against a "Eurocentric" outlook that would Vatican policies to be guided primarly by European thoughts and needs.
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