WASHINGTON (December 12, 2000) -- Muslims and Catholics from Indianapolis, Louisville, St. Louis, Cleveland, Detroit, Toledo, Chicago, and Lafayette attended the fifth annual meeting of the Midwest Region Dialogue of Catholics and Muslim, November 8-9, 2000. Participants met at the headquarters of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), located just outside Indianapolis in Plainfield, Indiana. Sessions were co-chaired by Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, ISNA's Secretary General, and Bishop Kevin M. Britt, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit. ISNA and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) co-sponsor this dialogue.
After an initial meeting in 1996, participants have focused their annual discussions on how Catholics and Muslims understand revelation, what they each mean by such expressions as "the word of God," and how Scripture is related to prayer. Last year, papers were prepared and read by Imam Fawaz Damra of Cleveland on the themes of the Quran and Fr. Leo Lefebure of Fordham University on the themes of the New Testament. For this year's meeting, formal responses to these papers were prepared by Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi to Fr. Lefebure's paper and by Fr. Lefebure to Imam Damra's paper. In addition, several participants had met earlier in the year on the draft of an agreed report summarizing what they have learned from their discussions. That draft, under the title Revelation: Christian and Muslim Perspectives, was also on the agenda for discussion. In addition, participants gave reports on events and developments in Catholic-Muslim relations in their locales, and Dr. John Borelli, NCCB Director of Interreligious Relations, answered questions on the statement on Jesus Christ and salvation released by the Vatican in September.
Participants agreed to return in November 2001 to review a more detailed draft of an agreed report which will be prepared by a special committee of seven members who were present at this meeting: Ms. Rita George (Archdiocese of Chicago), Dr. Irfan Ahmad Khan (Council of Islamic Organizations, Chicago), Dr. Ghulam Haider Aasi (American Islamic College), Imam Muhammad Nur Abdullah (Dar-ul-Salam Masjid, St. Louis), Imam Elahi, Fr. Lefebure, and Dr. Borelli. The plan of the dialogue is to publish a text on Christian and Muslim perspectives on revelation that will be useful as a positive resource for introducing Christians to Islam and Muslims to Christianity. Participants hope to agree upon a complete text next year which they can they use together on a trial basis in their various cities in the Midwest.
Also attending the meeting this year were: Dr. M. Iqbal Malik (Carmel, IN), Fr. Jude D. Weisenbeck (Archdiocese of Louisville), Dr. Ghouse A. Shareef (Louisville), Fr. Vincent Heier (Archdiocese of St. Louis), Fr. Joseph Hilinski (Diocese of Cleveland), Imam Fawaz Damra (Cleveland), Fr. John G. Budde (Archdiocese of Detroit), Fr. David Bruning (Diocese of Toledo), Mr. David Wilson (Diocese of Lafayette), Fr. Thomas Murphy (Archdiocese of Indianapolis), Dr. Shahid Athar (Indianapolis), and Sr. Mary Margaret Funk (Indianapolis). Observing the meeting was Dr. Jane I. Smith, Co-Director of the Center for Christian-Muslim Relations, Hartford Seminary, and a member of the Commission on Interfaith Relations of the National Council of Churches of Christ.
For more information contact:
Dr. John Borelli
National Conference of Catholic Bishops
Dr. Sayyid Mohammed Syeed
Islamic Society of North America