Plenary in Chicago brings together Catholic-Muslim regional dialogues
Bringing members of three Muslim-Catholic regional dialogue groups together for their first national plenary session in Chicago was a groundbreaking event, but its members agreed that the dialogue must move forward.
The “Living Our Faiths Together” plenary, held Oct. 3-5 at Catholic Theological Union, included a retrospective look at Muslim-Catholic dialogue, keynote talks by both Catholic and Muslim speakers, and opportunities for members to share what they have done so far and what direction they think the dialogue should take in the future.
The meeting took place in the aftermath of the killing of J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and the uprisings throughout the Arab world that participants say are a response to a YouTube video that was highly offensive to Muslims.
But members of the dialogue groups said that it’s important for all to remember that Muslims and Christians have lived in peace with one another far more than they have lived in conflict, and that neither group should make the mistake of blaming the other for the actions of a few.
Muslim keynote speaker Jamal Badawi said the short answer to whether Muslims and Catholics can live their faiths together is, “Yes, we can. We did it in the past and we are doing it right now in this blessed gathering.”
Badawi is an Egyptian-born Canadian who has the distinction of having served on both management and religion faculties at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and has written extensively about Islam.
Jesuit Father Tom Michel, who was secretary of the Jesuit Secretariat for Interreligious Dialogue in Rome for 12 years, said the first request he received to speak at the gathering gave the title as “Living Our Faith Together,” and he preferred the idea of discussing Muslims and Christians as sharing different branches of one faith in a single creator God to whom people will be called to account for their deeds.
Both men spoke of their faith traditions’ common heritage, displayed in the submission and faith of Abraham, and both shared how the hospitality Abraham showed to strangers provides a model for how Christians and Muslims should treat those of different faiths. [More]