The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops published a new resource to help Canadian Catholics understand their Muslim neighbours who celebrate the end of Ramadan (Ed al-Fitr). This is the first time the CCCB published a resource on relations between Catholics and Muslims. Photo/CCCB

CCCB promotes dialogue with Muslims

  • July 17, 2015

OTTAWA - Canada’s Catholic bishops have released a pamphlet to promote understanding and dialogue with Muslims meant to coincide with Id al-Fitr, the July 18 feast marking the end of Ramadan.

Published by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops through its Episcopal Commission for Christian Unity, Religious Relations with the Jews and Interfaith Dialogue, the eight-page document provides a thumbnail sketch of Islam’s history, a comparison of Catholic and Muslim beliefs and a look at international and Canadian efforts at dialogue.

“The pamphlet is meant to help Canadian Catholics better understand their Muslim neighbours,” said CCCB president Archbishop Paul-André Durocher in a July 8 introductory letter. 

Durocher pointed out how Christianity and Islam are the world’s most populous religions. He stressed the importance for the good of all to live in harmony and the role Canada can play in a “harmonious relationship.”

He acknowledged the document does not explore doctrinal differences in depth nor does it comment on “the present state of geopolitics.” It does, however, respond to St. Paul’s invitation: “Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up building” (Romans 14:19).

Among shared beliefs of Catholics and Muslims are the worship of one God, the belief that God “has spoken to humankind, although our understanding of revelation is not the same,” a belief in a Day of Judgment and the resurrection of the dead.

“It is important to caution against what dialogue experts refer to as ‘the word trap,’ ” it says. “Christians and Muslims may use the same term or speak of the same person, but their understandings of these terms may differ significantly.” Not only are understandings of Abraham, Moses and Jesus different, but also those concerning prayer, almsgiving and pilgrimage, it says.

The document also traces some of the ongoing efforts on Catholic-Muslim dialogue, beginning with the Second Vatican Council’s “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions,” Nostra Aetate.

The only reference to challenges in the dialogue concerns the plight of Christians in the Middle East that the document says “continues to be a serious concern.”

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