What Does it Mean to be a Catholic in the World Today?
Building peaceful relations among Christians and Muslims

An enthusiastic group gathered for this timely and vital adult faith development session designed to raise awareness about Islam and to respond to questions about how to build needed peace among Christians and Muslims.

The session began with an inspiring and thought-provoking new film, The Imam and the Pastor which highlights the commitment and struggle of a Christian pastor and Muslim Imam, in Nigeria, to build peaceful relations among their communities in the face of intense conflict and violence. Following this, Professor Thomas Mooren, Capuchin priest and specialist in interreligious dialogue, gave an enlightening hour of presentation on Islam to help Christians in their understanding of this great world religion.

The session was blessed in a special way by the Muslim guests who came to help the dialogue and add to the understanding. Leader and scholar Abdul Rashid, and retired educator and social worker Khadija Haffajee, both highly respected leaders in the Muslim community, joined in a panel presentation with Patricia-Marsden Dole, former Canadian ambassador to India and Tanzania and specialist in interreligious dialogue, and Carl Hétu, director of the Canadian office of the papal office, CNEWA.

Professor Thomas Mooren, O.F.M. Cap, presents on Islam

Panellists contribute to animated and productive discussion (l-r, Khadija Haffagee, Carl Hétu, Abdul Rashid, Patricia Marsden-Dole.

The perspectives presented and the challenges put forward by the pannelists engaged the whole assembly in an animated and productive conversation about building peaceful relationships between the two communities. The importance of engaging in concrete initiatives together, of ongoing dialogue and meetings, of ridding ourselves of ignorance about each other, celebrating similarities and respecting differences, where all highpoints of the conversation. An emerging insight, that those who engage in dialogue are enriched by one another when they are firmly grounded in their own identity, was emphasized. Participants were invited to carefully read the section of the Catholic Catechism that deals with the relationship of the Church to the Muslim community. Mr. Rashid challenged Christians to help dispel the terrible prejudices and misunderstandings about Muslims that enflame the conflict and contribute to violence.

Participants expressed great appreciation for the session. Many commented on how important it is to understand their own catholic identity better as well as to gain greater knowledge about Islam. Many asked for further sessions of this kind that could further the learnings and contribute to peace.

The next session of Putting Out Into the Deep! will take place on Saturday, December 8th, 2007 when Professor Noel Simard will lead a session on Catholic Moral decision-making. All are welcome! [email protected] (613)738-5025 (x217) to register, or [email protected] (613)738-5025 (x251) for further information.

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