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Friday, November 23, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The "King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Dialogue" (KAICIID) will be inaugurated on Monday 26 November in Vienna. Its name refers to the initiative of the King of Saudi Arabia and has three "founder States": the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Austria and the Kingdom of Spain. The Holy See has accepted the invitation to participate as a "founding observer" and a high level Vatican delegation will attend the inauguration ceremony.

Some questions have been raised regarding the motives and the meaning of the Holy See's adherence to this initiative. The Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. has offered the following clarifications:

"The centre, which will be inaugurated in Vienna on Monday, is a new institution the purpose of which is to foster dialogue among religions and cultures. This goal is to be regarded favourably with a view to fostering understanding and peaceful coexistence among populations, a matter of fundamental urgency for humanity today and in the future. The King of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, and the Holy Father discussed these aims during their meeting on 6 November 2007 in Vatican City.

"It is important to note that the new centre is not a proprietary institution of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but rather an independent international organisation recognised by the United Nations and founded by three States, two of which have centuries-old Christian traditions. It therefore provides an opportunity and space for dialogue, and it is right that the Holy See should avail herself of the opportunity to be present, in order to offer her experience and trusted expertise in the field of inter-religious dialogue. The status of founding observer is most apt to guarantee just such a presence, respecting the nature of the Holy See and permitting the Holy See to express her specific concerns and expectations.

"The Catholic Church is present among the various religions and religious communities on the Board of Directors, which is defined as the motor of the Centre's initiatives, and she will be represented from the outset by Fr. Miguel Ayuso Guixot M.I.I.C., secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue. This will constitute an important opportunity to present the vision of the Church in matters of dialogue, the human person and vocation, ethics and religion, social relations, justice and peace in a prominent cultural and international context. This has certainly taken place, and continues to do so, in many contexts and on many different occasions, but the variety and pluralism of today's world necessitate a multiplicity of directions and opportunities in which the active and proactive role of the Church may be developed whenever possible.

"Naturally, the Holy See, as a founding observer, will make every effort to express her concerns regarding the effective respect for the basic rights of Christians living in countries with a Muslim majority, in order to promote authentic and integral religious freedom. The new centre in Vienna will offer a suitable space in which these concerns may be raised and heard, and in which appropriate solutions may be found to problems as they arise".

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