09 May 2016, The Tablet

The eight things Catholics and Muslims agree on

The document is the result of the fourth Catholic-Muslim colloquium on interreligious dialogue

Senior leaders from the Catholic Church and the Muslim community have issued an eight-point joint statement reflecting their shared beliefs.

The document, which is the result of the fourth Catholic-Muslim colloquium on interreligious dialogue, includes a call for basic human rights to be protected by law, a pledge of solidarity with all those in need, a rejection of all forms of proselytism and a focus on the right of young people to an education that is “respectful of diversity”, reports Vatican Radio.

The communiqué came at the conclusion of a two-day meeting at the Vatican entitled ‘Shared values in social and political life: Christian and Muslim perspectives’. Delegates from a dozen different countries came together, organised by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and Jordan’s Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies. They were joined by Pope Francis on the concluding day.

At a time when we have become used to the destruction caused by wars, the Pope said, “the work of dialogue, of rapprochement, helps us always to build”.

Among the members of the Catholic delegation was the former Canadian ambassador to the Holy See, Anne Leahy, who currently teaches Catholic Social Thought at McGill University in Montreal.

Dr Leahy said “there was a meeting of minds” on the important values that Muslims and Christians share in terms of being good citizens acting together for the common good. “We hear too much about what our differences are”, she said, so it’s important now “to witness that there are basic values we share that can counter the negativity”.

She noted that the communiqué also says Muslims and Christians can work with all people of good will who do not profess a particular religion, so “inclusivity was a hallmark here”, she says.

Just a month ago the Vatican’s chief inter-faith expert, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, warned that dialogue with Muslims had so far produced “neglibible results” and failed to prevent the threatened eradication of Christianity in the Middle East.

The Cardinal said: "We meet, we observe and listen to each other - but the problem is that all these small achievements don't translate at all into law and administration, or into the lives of ordinary people. The dialogue is just too elitist". 

The eight-point agreement stated:

  1. We share beliefs and moral values. Our commonalities are much more than our particularities, and they constitute a solid basis peacefully and fruitfully living together, also with persons of good will who do not profess a particular religion.
  1. We believe in the humanising and civilising role of our religions, when their followers adhere to their principles of worshipping God and loving and caring for the other. 
  1. We believe that God bestowed upon every person dignity and inalienable rights. They are His gifts that should be recognised, guaranteed and protected by law.
  1. We pledge our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in humanity who are in any kind of need regardless of their ethnic, religious or cultural background.
  1. Our help to the poor and the needy should be offered out of compassion and for the sake of God's favour. It should never be used to proselytise.
  1. We believe that the youth represent not only the future of humanity. They are also an important part of its present. They have the right to proper education that prepares them to be good citizens respectful of diversity.
  1. Our world, our "common home", is going through many complicated crises and needs the steady efforts of its inhabitants to make it a suitable place where we can live together peacefully, sharing the resources of the universe, mindful of future generations.
  1. We express our proximity and solidarity with all those who suffer, especially from violence and armed conflict. Respect for international law, dialogue, justice, mercy, compassion are values and adequate means to achieve peace and harmony. 

The Catholic delegation comprised of:

H.E. Bishop Miguel Ayuso, M.C.C.J, Secretary, P.C.I.D.
Mons. Khaled Akasheh, Bureau Chief for Islam, P.C.I.D. 
H.E. Jean-Paul Vesco, O.P., Bishop of Oran
H.E. Mrs Anne Leahy, Ambassador emerita of Canada to the Holy See
Dr. Anan Al-Kass Yousif, Iraq
Mrs. Ruth Susan Wangeci Maina, Kenya
Eng. Riad Sargi, Syria
Mr. Michael Utama Purnama, Indonesia.

The Muslim delegation comprised of:

Dr. Fareed Yaqoob Yusuf Mubarak AlMuftah, Bahrain
Dr. Amer El Hafi, Jordan
Dr. Oussama Mohamed Nabil, Egypt
Dr. Hassan Nadhem, Iraq  
Dr. Majeda Omar, Director of R.I.I.F.S., Jordan
Dr. Nayla Tabbara, Lebanon.



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