FACTBOX: Catholic-Muslim relations

Tue May 12, 2009 5:11am EDT
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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Relations between Catholics and Muslims have improved markedly in recent decades after centuries marked by memories of the Crusades and Ottoman military campaigns in eastern Europe.

Here are some of the major step in that process:

1965: The Second Vatican Council said the Catholic Church regarded Muslims "with esteem" and urged both faiths "to forget the past and work sincerely for mutual understanding."

1968: Vatican begins sending Ramadan greetings to Muslims.

1989: Vatican begins occasional meetings with World Islamic Call Society, major Muslim mission organization based in Libya.

1994: Tehran's department for interreligious dialogue meets with its Vatican counterpart.

1995: Catholic-Muslim Liaison Committee begins discussions on current issues between the Vatican and four large Muslim organizations.

1998: Vatican and al-Azhar University in Cairo agree to hold annual meetings to discuss topical issues from both perspectives.

2001: John Paul II becomes first pope to visit a mosque, the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.   Continued...