“The change highlights the importance of inter-religious dialogue.”

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, stating to the Italian newspaper La Stampa that the Vatican would rescind its previous decision and will restore the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue as its own department.

Pope Benedict XVI downgraded the council, which addresses the Islamic world, in March 2006 and sent its president, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, to Cairo as a Papal Nuncio (diplomatic representative) to Egypt and to serve as the Vatican's representative at the Arab League in Cairo. By reversing his previous decision to merge the council with the Vatican's culture ministry, the Pope is clearly acknowledging the need to directly engage with the Islamic world, but it has not been announced whether he will also reinstate Archbishop Fitzgerald — a seasoned veteran in his former post — as head of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue.

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