By Laura Ieraci
ROME — Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, longtime Vatican diplomat and president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, died July 5, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
He served as president of the council for more than a decade, which included heading the Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims. Despite his Parkinson’s diagnosis, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him to the post in 2007, which he held until his death at the age of 75.
Despite his declining health, the cardinal remained committed to his mission, meeting with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman in Riyadh April 18. The visit, held a little more than two months before the cardinal’s death, was the first to the kingdom by such a senior Vatican official.
During the visit, the cardinal and the secretary-general of the Muslim World League signed a cooperation agreement on achieving common objectives. According to Arab News, the agreement emphasizes the need to promote dialogue and develop fruitful relationships between Christians and Muslims based on respect and peace.
Cardinal Tauran was articulate about the value of interreligious dialogue. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune in 2013, he said people “have to remember that interreligious dialogue is not dialogue between religions. It’s dialogue between believers. It’s not a theological, philosophical exercise. First you have to accept that we live in a world that’s plural: culture, religion, education, scientific research.”
“Every human being has a religious dimension,” he continued. “Between believers we try first of all to know each other. And the first thing you have to do is to proclaim your faith because you can not build that dialogue on ambiguity. When we are understood, we have to see what separates us and what unites us and to put those commonalities at the service of society. Dialogue is not for the consumption of the community. It’s at the service of society. … Believers have a special role to play in the public dialogue.”
He had underlined the importance of dialogue and relations among different religions in his earlier work for the Secretariat of State, where he served as secretary, from 1991 to 2003.
In 2003, he was elevated to the College of Cardinals and appointed head the Vatican libraries and archives. He also served as Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church since 2015.
Cardinal Tauran was born in Bordeaux, France, in 1943, and was ordained a priest in 1969. He earned licentiates in philosophy and theology, and a degree in canon law. After serving as parochial vicar after his ordination, he entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1975.
Caption1: Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran (left) greets Pope Francis.
Caption 2: Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran (right) signs an agreement with the secretary-general of the Muslim World League in Saudi Arabia April 18, 2018. (Photo from Arab News website)