The Australian reports that the deliberative poll to be held in Canberra will be based on a representative sample of about 350 non-Muslim Australians, together with 50 Muslims, who will debate whether, and how, they can live together successfully.
The 350 people are part of a group of 1,400 people who have been surveyed in detail by Newspoll about their attitudes.
These perceptions will be compared with their views after they have spent a weekend at Old Parliament House listening to a wide range of experts and religious leaders and discussing the issues among themselves.
Cardinal Pell will join other prominent people such as Melbourne Muslim cleric Mohammed Omran, London bomb survivor Gillian Hicks and Catch the Fire Ministries pastor Daniel Scot - who won a court appeal against a finding that he vilified Islam.
A report on the discussions and findings will go to governments and non-government agencies as a contribution to policy-making in areas such as immigration, education and employment.
The concept of the deliberative poll was developed in the US and this is the third conducted in Australia by Issues Deliberation Australia, an independent, non-profit public policy think-tank headed by psychologist Pamela Ryan. The earlier topics were the republic and reconciliation. Sponsors for an exercise with a total cost approaching $500,000 are the Myer Foundation, The Australian, Qantas and the National Australia Bank.
Explaining the move, Australian editor, Chris Mitchell said "I think Australians generally have a right to know what is being said in places of worship, whether by Catholic or Muslim clerics".
"One of the good things about reporting the 'raw meat' speech is that it brought a lot of mainstream Muslim people out and showed mainstream Australians that many Muslims think exactly like them."
Debate aims to cut down barriers (The Australian, 1/3/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Cardinal George Pell, "Islam and Western Democracies" (Archdiocese of Sydney, 4/2/06)
Cardinal George Pell
Pell affirms commitment to dialogue with Muslims (CathNews 8/5/06)
Pell says Catholics should read the Koran (CathNews 4/5/06)
Pell comments portrayed as anti-Muslim slur (CathNews 15/11/04)
1 Mar 2007