Representatives from the National Catholic-Muslim Explore “Fraternity in Dialogue”
WASHINGTON - After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue (NCMD) convened October 17-18 at Providence College in Rhode Island.
WASHINGTON - After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue (NCMD) convened October 17-18 at Providence College in Rhode Island. The meeting opened with remarks by the co-chairs of the Dialogue, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago and Shaykh Abdul Rahman Khan of the Islamic Circle of North America. Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue addressed the participants and led a discussion on the topic of “fraternity in dialogue,” as conceived by Pope Francis, most notably in the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together co-authored by Pope Francis and Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar.
Promoting a culture of fraternity through dialogue is of vital importance, and in their opening remarks, the NCMD co-chairs expressed their shared mutual joy at the opportunity to re-convene the group after more than two years. “Fraternity through dialogue,” Cardinal Cupich stated, “is a timely, indeed necessary, means to advance relations between Catholics and Muslims, as was made plain in the 2019 joint statement, ‘Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.’” He added, “The statement also serves to contribute a major religious response to the healing desperately needed in our civil and political discourse at home.”
Supporting Cardinal Cupich’s remarks on fraternity, Shaykh Khan added, “The continued challenges we face from the pandemic and the atmosphere of political and cultural tension that persists in the world, not least due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, calls for humanity to work tirelessly for peace.” Moreover, he added, “Threats against the stability of the family and the traditional boundaries observed regarding gender and sexuality, which have become increasingly transgressed in recent years, also require our attention.”
The NCMD was honored to welcome Cardinal Fitzgerald who was invited to deliver a public keynote address on his life in ministry and interreligious dialogue. His Eminence also shared his reflections on the dynamics of successful Catholic-Muslim dialogue during a separate session for Dialogue members. In particular, and by means of the example of the Groupe de Recherche Islamo-Chriétien (GRIC), Cardinal Fitzgerald was able to share suggestions for how the NCMD might organize its work in the coming years, especially on the topic of fraternity.
Following group conversation on Cardinal Fitzgerald’s talk, the NCMD members discerned along with the co-chairs that the focus for coming years will be on addressing the topic of fraternity through the lens of social friendship in their respective traditions. Moreover, the NCMD will frame this current round of dialogue on the topic of social friendship in terms of a dialogical pilgrimage in which they “journey together” toward deepening their understanding, mutual collaboration, and esteem for one another.
The Dialogue members, with approval by the co-chairs, discerned that this work will commence November 6-8, 2023. The agenda for this next gathering will feature presentations by members on the topic of social fraternity and a keynote, public conversation between Dr. Pim Valkenberg and Dr. Zeki Saritoprak.