WASHINGTON (March 11, 1998) -- Marriage and family life in the Catholic and Islamic traditions was discussed at the initial meeting of what is expected to be an on-going Islamic-Catholic dialogue.
Muslims and Catholics from several dioceses and Islamic centers in the northeast United States attended the meeting, which was held March 3-4 at Manresa Jesuit Retreat Housen on Staten Island, New York. Twenty participants and observers agreed to meet again next year under the same title, the Mid-Atlantic Islamic-Catholic Dialogue, and to continue discussing marriage and family life in the Catholic and Islamic traditions.
The group heard presentations on the Catholic and Islamic views of marriage and family by Professor Zulfiqar Ali Shah of the University of North Florida and Dr. H. Richard McCord, Director of the NCCB Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth. Time was allotted for the participants to introduce themselves to one another and to share their experiences of past dialogues and Islamic-Christian relations. The retreat environment and schedule provided ample opportunity for prayer and informal conversation. During discussions and at prayer the participants remembered those who are suffering and who have died due to violence particularly in situations where the lives of Muslims and Christians are intertwined, especially in Kosovo, Bosnia, Sudan, Iraq and the Middle East.
The participants shared views about the religious meaning of marriage and the importance of family life for both Christians and Muslims. In preparation for next year, some participants hope to facilitate local dialogues between Catholic and Muslim couples. Others will begin drafting a statement that enumerates and explains "family values" in both traditions. Participants hope to produce a statement that will introduce and explain these values to Christians and Muslims.
The national co-sponsors and co-conveners of this dialogue are the Islamic Circle of North America, headquartered in Queens, New York, and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. Participating for ICNA were: Dr. Khurshid Khan, who served as co-presider, Dr. Zahid Bukhari, Imam Mohammed Naseem, and Professor Shah. Bishop Ignatius A. Catanello, Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn, served as co-presider and represented the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. Auxiliary Bishop Joseph F. Martino of Philadelphia and Dr. John Borelli, NCCB staff for interreligious relations, also participated. Catholics and Muslims from Buffalo, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Newark, Trenton, Philadelphia, and Vermont also attended.
Among the other participants were: Dr. Khalid Qazi of Buffalo, Mr. Salman Yussuf of Philadelphia, Imam Hamad Ahmad Chebli of the Islamic Society of Central New Jersey, Msgr. Donald Beckman of the Diocese of Rockville Center, Father James Loughran, SA, of the Archdiocese of New York, Father Francis X. Mazur of the Diocese of Buffalo, Father Philip Latronico of the Archdiocese of Newark, Father Michael Lynch of the Diocese of Brooklyn, Father Jeffrey Lee of the Diocese of Trenton, Father William Corcoran of the Diocese of Burlington, Brother David Carroll, FSC, of Catholic Near East Welfare Association, and Dr. Bert Breiner of the Interfaith Relations Office of the National Council of Churches of Christ.
For further information contact: Dr. Zahid Bukhari, Islamic Circle of North America, 718-658-1199; Dr. John Borelli, 202-541-3020.