Indonesian Muslims have offered condolences after the death of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
, saying he helped foster interfaith ties during a visit to the country nine years ago. Cardinal Tauran died of Parkinson's disease aged 75 on July 5 in the United States. Despite being diagnosed with the disease in 2003, Cardinal Tauran continued his globe-trotting diplomacy to improve Vatican's relations with the Muslim world. In November 2009, he visited Indonesia where he met Muslim leaders and visited Istiqlal Mosque — the largest mosque in Southeast — which is located next to the Assumption Cathedral Church in Jakarta. Azumardy Azra, a respected Muslim intellectual who recently chaired a Jakarta summit of Muslim scholars from around the world, called Cardinal Tauran's death a big loss for global interreligious dialogue. "He played an important role in building bridges, tolerance and mutual respect between the Catholic Church, Muslims and those of other religions," he told ucanews.com on July 9. "I hope his successor will continue his work to build interfaith relations to realize harmony and peace," said Azra, who is also rector of Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Jakarta. Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, chairman of the youth wing of Muhammmadiyah, Indonesia's second-largest Islamic organization, said he was also deeply saddened by Cardinal Tauran's death. "We need leaders [like Tauran] who can foster interreligious ties, who can provide solutions when religions face conflict," he said. "His visit to Indonesia improved interreligious relations, particularly between Muslims and the Catholic Church."