WASHINGTON (October 29, 2004) - At a time of considerable uncertainty and even anxiety over the role of religion in American society, the Midwest Regional Dialogue of Catholics and Muslims renewed its commitment to annual substantive meetings at the headquarters of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in Plainfield, Indiana. Catholics and Muslims face challenges from the rest of American society in the area of virtues and values. Led by distinguished scholars such as Sheikh M. Nur Abdullah, Fr. Thomas Baima, Dr. Shahid Athar, Dr. Ghulam-Haider Aasi, Dr. Naheed Arshad, and Professor Donald Mitchell, the participants found that our respective traditions have been intellectually nurtured by the Hellenistic philosophical tradition in the field of ethics, in the description of the virtues, and in our ways of articulating excellence in a meaningful human life. The texts of our respective scriptural revelations, Biblical and Qur'ânic, complete in divine terms what reason begins in its human quest for perfection. The interplay between these profoundly religious ways of understanding the human journey, demonstrates how both the Muslim and Catholic communities have innate resources for confronting the moral challenges posed by secular society and its values. Both communities recognize that they are assailed by the attacks of secularism; both communities hold the conviction that we have something better to offer the people of our times and places. Moreover, Catholics and Muslims find themselves drawn together in the task of appropriating the advantages that each community more finds in the environment of multicultural democracy in the United States. In spite of the menace of misunderstanding and reprisals, the leadership of the two communities is committed to democratic principles, collaboration in the works of social justice, and vital engagement with US political and economic life.
The participants welcomed Fr. Francis Tiso, associate director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to his first meeting at ISNA headquarters. Fr. Tiso replaces Dr. John Borelli, who is now Assistant to the President for Interreligious Affairs at Georgetown University.
The Regional Dialogue group plans its next meeting for November 15-16, 2005 with the theme: "Envisioning an American Future: Muslim and Catholic Perspectives on Religion-USA." The editorial subcommittee is now completing final revisions on a significant document that is the fruit of four years of work: Revelation: Muslim and Catholic Perspectives.
The following participated in the dialogue:
Father Francis V. Tiso, Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, Rev. Thomas Murphy, Dr. Shahid Athar, Rev. William Hammer, Dr. Ghouse A. Shareef, Mrs. Sameena D. Shareef, Rev. Vincent A. Heier, Sheikh Muhammad Nur Abdullah, Rev. David Bruning, Sr. Joan Monica McGuire, OP, Dr. Ghulam-Haider Aasi, David Burrell, CSC, Judith A. Longdin, Naheed Arshad, Sr. Mary Margaret Funk, OSB, Professor Donald Mitchell, Dr. Thomas Baima, Rev. Raymond J. Webb, Mr. Muktar Ahmad, Prof. Scott Alexander, Dr. Muhammad Shafiq, Dr. Aras Malik, Dr. Iqbal Malik