WASHINGTON (March 9, 2000) - Muslims and Catholics have formed the West Coast Dialogue of Muslims and Catholics. With the sponsorship of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and shurah councils of Northern and Southern California, representatives of various local and national organizations will meet annually in the West Coast region. Nine Catholics and eleven Muslims from California, Washington, and Washington, D.C., concluded a February 1 and 2 meeting with the pledge to form an ongoing dialogue. The Islamic Society of Orange County and the Catholic Diocese of Orange hosted the group, which met at the Center for Spiritual Development, a house for prayer and spiritual retreats sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange. Presiding at the meeting were Archbishop Alexander Brunett of Seattle, who has served as Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, Director of the Islamic Society of Orange County.
Dr. Ahmad Sakr of the Foundation for Islamic Knowledge and Dr. John Borelli, staff for interreligious relations at the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, presented papers on the successes, goals, and possibilities for Catholic-Muslim relations. Participants reviewed their own experiences of Christian-Muslim dialogue and reflected with the presenters on how a group such as this could best use the opportunity for an ongoing exchange of views on topics of mutual concern.
Those attending the meeting recognized how many of them have already met and know one another through projects and others committees for cooperation and dialogue, but very little of substance from regional and national encounters seems to make it back into churches and mosques. They agreed that accurate introductory information is very important for breaking down barriers to understanding at the basic level of everyday encounter. They also acknowledged that few Muslims and Christians understand how the other group interprets its Scriptures and teaches its faithful how to live. With public calls for common codes of ethics today, the group noted the need for in-depth discussions about shared values. They decided to improve relations between Catholics and Muslims by seeking consensus on where they truly have a spiritual basis for common positive action together.
The group consented to meet annually for a three year term beginning with a two day meeting in February 2001 on the topic of "surrender to God." Teams of three Muslims and three Catholics will prepare presentations which will include explanations of how passages in Scripture on this topic are interpreted, theological reflections on the meaning of these passages, and application of the meaning to daily life. The group will return to the Center for Spiritual Development for next year's meeting and also will visit to the Islamic Society of Orange County in Garden Grove.
In addition to the two presiders and two presenters, the following were in attendance: Kalim Farooki (Corona, CA), Fr. Rafael Luévano (Orange, CA), Fr. Gerry O'Rourke (San Francisco, CA), Imam Abuqadir Al-Amin (San Francisco, CA), Fr. José Rubio (San Jose, CA), Msgr. James Kidder (Sacramento, CA), Imam Sabir El-Amin (Los Angeles, CA), Mary Cass (Los Angeles, CA), Jerrel Abdul Salam (Paramount, CA), Brian Linard (Los Angeles, CA), Dr. Aslam Abdullah (Los Angeles, CA), Salam al-Marayati (Los Angeles, CA), Fr. Elias Mallon, SA (Daly City, CA), Imam Sadiq Saafir (Pasadena, CA), and Naim Shah, Jr.
For further information, contact:
Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi
The Islamic Society of Orange County
Dr. John Borelli
National Conference of Catholic Bishops