Just a short post to recommend an article in Catholic World Report on our understanding of Islam. I'm not saying I agree with every word of it but it has given a direction to answer some of the questions I've sometimes had on hearing Catholic leaders talk about Islam. William Kilpatrick suggests that they may be basing their more positive assessment of Islam on a particular strand that is not representative of the vast majority of Islamic countries - that of the Sufi tradition. Apparently, a Catholic scholar of this particular Islamic tradition, Louis Massignon (1883-1962), has been very influential in the late 20th century Catholic view of Islam. I was particularly interested to read of his background influence on the Second Vatican Council documents, Nostra Aetate and Lumen Gentium. Have a read of "Looking at Islam through Catholics eyes."
he also writes for Crisis Magazine. There are some further articles of his: