Mid-Atlantic Catholic – Muslim Dialogue Concludes Marriage Statements And Plans New Dialogue Quadrennium

March 27, 2006 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON (March 27, 2006)—Confronted with new political and social challenges, the Mid – Atlantic Catholic–Muslim Regional Dialogue met at Immaculate Conception Center, Douglaston, NY on March 8 – 9, 2006 to address: Social Concerns and Consequences: Living Marriage and Family Life Faith fully in the USA today.

A new Catholic co-chair, Bishop Denis Madden, auxiliary of Baltimore, was welcomed by the outgoing co-chair Bishop Ignatius Catanello, auxiliary of Brooklyn, accompanied by the Bishop of Brooklyn, Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio. Bishop Madden brings to the dialogue many years of work with the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, which included over seven years of work in Jerusalem working with Palestinian refugees.

The dialogue sought to consolidate its work over the past six years on a common statement on Marriage and Family Life. The document is envisioned to be useful to clergy, Muslim leadership, and laity working in the field of pastoral care of couples preparing for marriage. The Muslim and Catholic participants critiqued the latest drafts of chapters describing the teachings on marriage in Islam and in Catholic Christianity. Further revisions will be completed by early April.

A decision was made to eliminate the planned chapter on challenges to religious values in marriage and family life in the USA. It was felt that the chapter on pastoral care (When Clergy and Couple Meet) could stand adequately to fulfill this requirement. Additional material was drafted for inclusion within existing chapters, such as a survey of typical areas of misunderstanding when interfaith marriages are celebrated. Materials based on the survey of Catholic teaching presented by Fr. Philip Latronico were seen as a good description of the challenges both communities encounter in secularized environments and will be used to survey the areas to be addressed in this dialogue and in future dialogues. Father Latronico's comments on Famularis Consortio, already offered in earlier meetings of this dialogue, will be used to expand the introduction. Moreover, concerns about the criteria for recognition of interfaith marriage will be expanded in the existing chapters. The pastoral chapter already covers areas of cultural sensitivity, common misunderstandings, and the desire of leadership to remain in a supportive relationship even with couples who opt for a marriage outside the norms of the respective faith traditions.

Professor E. Kamil wanted to ensure that cultural preferences and traditions not be confused with the essential religious requirements of a recognized marriage in Islam and in Catholic Christianity. By keeping to essentials, many of the cultural barriers can be overcome, particularly for interfaith couples.

A Steering Committee was constituted to attend to arrangements for the next meeting which is planned for April 17 – 18 – 19, 2007, again in Douglaston. The next quadrennuim will concern itself with education as an essential feature of improved Muslim – Catholic relations. Next year, the relationships between history and perceptions of the religious "other" will be explored in view of a felt need for healing of memories and new approaches to the way Muslims teach Christianity and Christians teach about Islam.

Steering Committee will meet on June 13: Fr. Francis Tiso, Fr. Philip Latronico, Imam Mohamed el Filali, Prof. Esmet Kamil, and Imam Ashraf uz Zaman Khan.

Future topics suggested for the Quadrennium:

-Building cooperative communities and neighborhoods
-The spiritual bonds that unite us
-Common concerns about immigration and social justice

List of participants: Most Rev. Denis Madden; Dr. Khurshid Khan; Rev. Canon Francis V. Tiso; Rev. Msgr. Guy Massie; Dr. Younas Shahid; Sr. Josephine Kase, IHM; Rev. Gregory Fairbanks; Rev. Philip Latronico; Rev. Francis X. Mazur; Imam Mohamed el Filali; Prof. Esmet Kamil; Imam Ashraf uz Zaman Khan; Rev .Msgr. Donald Beckman; Rev. Thomas Ryan CSP; Mr. Mohammad T. Sherwani; Susan Georgini; Manzar Karim; Hamad A. Chebli; Azeem Khan.