A year after Pope Benedict merged it into the Vatican Council for Culture, Holy See Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has announced that the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue will be restored in its own right.
Last year, Pope Benedict merged the department with the Vatican's culture ministry and removed its president, archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, News.com.au reports.
Fitzgerald, a Briton who is one of the Catholic Church's most experienced figures in dialogue with Islam, was sent to Cairo in what was widely seen as a demotion.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone told Italian daily, La Stampa, that the council would now be reinstated as a department in its own right.
"The change highlights the importance of inter-religious dialogue," he said.
It is rare for the Vatican to reverse its decisions, and even rarer for it to do so in such a short period of time.
Months after Fitzgerald's removal, the Pope angered Muslims with a lecture that seemed to depict Islam as an irrational religion tainted with violence.
He later expressed regret at the pain his comments had caused and tried to defuse tensions during a trip to Turkey, where he prayed at a mosque and called Islam a peaceful faith.
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