Pope Benedict XVI on Monday restored an office that specializes in relations with Muslims, a year after he was criticized for disbanding it, and named a former Vatican foreign minister to head it.
The appointment of French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican's foreign affairs chief from 1990 to 2003 as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, raised the office's profile.
Tauran was one of the strongest Vatican opponents of U.S. plans to invade Iraq, saying a unilateral military strike would be a "crime against peace" with no justification on grounds of self-defense.
The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, had recently announced the office would be reopened, saying it showed the importance the Vatican attached to dialogue with other religions.
The office had previously been headed by English Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald — considered a top Islamic expert — who was sent to Egypt as papal envoy.
Church relations with Muslims were badly strained after a speech by Benedict in Germany in September that linked Islam to violence.
Last Mod: 25 Haziran 2007, 21:10