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Cardinal Signals Firm Vatican Stance With Muslims

PARIS (Reuters) - The top Vatican official for Islam has praised a novel Muslim call for dialogue but said real theological debate with them was difficult as they saw the Koran as the literal word of God and would not discuss it in depth.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, in an interview on Friday with the French Catholic daily La Croix, also said Christians would have to discuss curbs on building churches in the Islamic world in the dialogue advocated by 138 Muslim scholars in the appeal.

His interview, coming after mostly positive comments by other Catholic Islam experts, signaled the world's largest Christian church wanted a serious dialogue with Muslims that did not avoid some fundamental issues dividing the religions.

"Muslims do not accept that one can discuss the Koran in depth, because they say it was written by dictation from God," Tauran said. "With such an absolute interpretation, it is difficult to discuss the contents of faith."

See some of Ibn Warraq's Koranic exegesis here. Discovering the reality of the origins of the Koran has never been so crucial. If Muslims in general could accept the truth about the Koran's imperfection, the way Christians and Jews accept the imperfection of their holy books, it would change everything.

The fact that Muslims can build mosques in Europe while many Islamic states limit or ban church building cannot be ignored, he said. "In a dialogue among believers, it is fundamental to say what is good for one is good for the other," he said.

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