Vatican statement on new Interreligious Centre in Vienna
The following is an English translation of a communiquè issued on November 23rd by
the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, concerning the
inauguration of a new Interreligious Centre in the Austrian capital that will be attended
by a delegation from the Holy See.
"This coming Monday, November 26th, the
King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural
Dialogue (KAICIID) will be inaugurated in Vienna. As the name of the institution says,
KAICIID traces its origins to an 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, for her part, has welcomed the invitation to adhere to the
initiative in the quality of “Founding Observer”. A qualified delegation of the Holy
See will be present at the inauguration ceremony.
Some questions have been
raised regarding the motives and the meaning of the Holy See’s adherence to this initiative.
As the Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, I am able to offer the following
The Centre that will be inaugurated on Monday in Vienna is
a new institution, the purpose of which is to foster dialogue among religions and
cultures. This goal is always to be looked on with favour – with a view to understanding
and peaceful co-existence among peoples: a basic and an urgent need for the humanity
of today and tomorrow. The King of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz had spoken
to the Holy Father of this need during the meeting they had in the Vatican, on November
It is important to note that the new Centre is not a proprietary
institution of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is rather an independent international
Organisation, recognised by the United Nations, and constituted by three Founder States,
two of which have centuries-old Christian traditions. We have, therefore, an opportunity
and a space for dialogue: it is right that the Holy See should avail herself of the
opportunity and be present, in order better to put to use her experience and trusted
expertise in the field of interreligious 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 as one of the many diverse religions and religious
communities of the Board of Directors, which is the motor of the Centre’s activities.
Representing the Holy See shall be the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious
Dialogue, Fr. Miguel Ayuso Guixot. This constitutes an important occasion for presenting
the Church’s vision: of dialogue; the human person and vocation; ethics and religion;
social relations; justice and peace; all at high-level venue of culture and international
cooperation. All this most certainly took place already and continues to occur in
many venues and in many different occasions. However, the variety and pluralism of
today’s world call for a multiplication of both chances for and vectors of development
of the active and proactive role of the Church – indeed, in every possible occasion.
Naturally, the Holy See, in her role as Founding Observer, shall not fail to bring
to light her concerns for the effective respect of the fundamental rights of Christians
who live in countries with a Muslim majority, in order to promote authentic and integral
religious liberty. In this way, the new Centre at Vienna shall offer a space capable
of receiving the expressions and manifestations of the Church’s concerns in these
regards, and for working efficaciously toward viable solutions to related problems
as they arise."