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Vatican invites Sunni Muslims for talks

Thu 18 Feb 2016
By Hannah Tooley

The Vatican has extended an invitation to the head of an Egyptian university to re-begin dialogue between Catholic and Islamic institutions. 

Sheikh Ahmed al Tayyeb, the head of Egypt's Al Azhar University, has been invited to meet with Pope Francis.

The invitation has been accepted in principle.

Al Azhar is thought to be the most prestigious institution in the world of Sunni Islam, and its representatives were actively engaged in conversation with the Holy See until early 2011.

The Egyptian university broke off ties with the Vatican after Pope Benedict XVI spoke out against violence towards the country's Christian minority.

The university claimed that the Pope's words were "unacceptable interference into Egypt's affairs."

Al Alzhar University


However, in 2013, the university said that it looked forward to re-beginning conversations with the pope.

Earlier in the week, Archbishop Miguel Ayuso Guixot, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, went to Egypt to personally hand over the Vatican's invitation.

Speaking to news agency, Fides, he said that that Catholic Church wants "to resume friendly relations of cooperation - that on our behalf have never stopped."

He added that he had hoped dialogue would begin soon.

The Archbishop said it would be an important step in smoothing tensions between the Islamic and Western worlds.

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