'The Word of God' is Topic of Islamic-Catholic Dialogue

October 21, 1997 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON (October 21, 1997) -- "The Word of God" was the topic of the Second Annual Midwest Region Islamic-Catholic Dialogue. The dialogue took place at Fatima Retreat House, Indianapolis, October 14-15.

Most Reverend Kevin M. Britt, Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit, represented the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB), one of the co-sponsors of the meeting, and Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, Secretary-General of the Islamic Society of North America, represented the other co-sponsor. The hosts in Indianapolis were: Dr. Shahid Athar and Rev. Thomas Murphy, Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs officer of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and pastor of St. John's parish. Other participants were from Louisville, St. Louis, Cleveland, Detroit, Toledo, Chicago, and other cities of Indiana.

The Midwest Dialogue is one of four major initiatives in the area of Islamic dialogue of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and oneof several annual events on the calendar of the Islamic Society of North America.

This year the topic for dialogue was the expression "the Word of God." Presentations were made by Dr. Irfan Ahmad Khan of Chicago, Imam A.M. Khattab of Toledo, Rev. Elias Mallon, SA, Director of the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute in New York, and Rev. Thomas Michel, SJ, from Rome and Director of Interreligious Relations for the Jesuits.

The presenters, well known for their scholarship and understanding of Christian-Muslim relations, offered insights into the meaning of "the Word of God" in the Bible and in the Qur'an and how the expression is used in the Catholic and Islamic traditions.

At a public session on the first evening of the dialogue, participants reported on Christian-Muslim activities in Chicago, Cleveland, and Louisville. Dr. Athar spoke about programs of the Interfaith Alliance of Indianapolis and participants answered questions from the audience. Time was set aside for prayer and informal conversation. Catholic participants were invited to observe during the evening and night prayers of the Muslim participants, and the Muslims were invited to observe at the morning Eucharistic liturgy.

The participants agreed to return to Fatima Retreat House, November 4-5,1998, for the next session of the dialogue, at which they will continue discussing the meaning and role of the word of God in their lives. They will review summaries of this year's discussion, which they hope to publish eventually, and they will hear presentations on howthe Qur'an and the Bible are recited and chanted in prayer and have examples of how interpretations of certain Scriptural passages on prayerare done.

For further information contact:

Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, Islamic Society of North America, 317/839-8157
Dr. Shahid Athar, 317/872-5159
Bishop Kevin M. Britt, Archdiocese of Detroit, 313/237-5848
Father Thomas Murphy, St. John's parish, 317/635-2021
Dr. John Borelli, NCCB Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, 202/541-3020