The Vatican drive for dialogue, Lamdan said, comes from John Paul II himself. When he presented his credentials in September 2000, Lamdan said, John Paul told him that his 1986 visit to Rome’s synagogue, the first by a pope, represented the first “station” along a new path. The second station, the pope said, was the Jubilee Year visit to the Holy Land. It was time, the pope said, to build a third station. Despite the pope’s commitment, however, Lamdan said he detects a sea change in the Vatican’s inter-religious priorities in the direction of Islam. “I do think that in some corporate way some type of decision, possibly a strategic one, has been taken by the Vatican in the last two years to try to redefine the relationship with Islam,” Lamdan said.
The interview also includes a lengthy dissection of the April 2002 standoff at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.