Polish American Priests Association News

November 7, 2008

Catholics, Muslims gather for Midwest dialogue

By Steve Euvino-Catholic News Service

CROWN POINT, IN--In a first for the Diocese of Gary, Catholics and Muslims gathered there for the annual Midwest Muslim-Catholic Dialogue Oct. 26-28.

They met at Catholic and Islamic institutions to engage in interreligious dialogue because, as its mission statement declares, the dialogue "is part of our core identity as people of faith."

Representatives from several states and the District of Columbia attended a series of scholarly sessions and public sessions dealing with such issues as religious freedom, religion in the public square and immigration, as well as an analysis of the American legal structure as it relates to Islamic law.

Joan Crist, director of the Gary diocesan Office of Ecumenism and Interrelgious Affairs, said the purpose of the dialogue, started in 1996, is to "create understanding between our two religions."

Gary Bishop Dale J. Melczek, formerly of Detroit, offering a welcome Oct. 26 at the Islamic center, said that in the past year leaders from both faiths have made public efforts toward making peace between the two groups.

Noting that Christians and Muslims comprise 55 percent of the world's population, the bishop quoted from a Muslim letter that stated: "If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace."

In his welcome, Iman Mongy el Quesny, the Islamic center's spiritual leader, listed some of the religious figures both faiths hold in common, including Noah, Moses, Jacob, Joseph, Benjamin, Aaron and John the Baptist.

"Let us come together for a common word," the Iman said, and that word is justice.

Msgr. Patrick Halfpenny of the Detroit Archdiocese, who is archdiocesan ecumenical and interfaith adviser, said the challenge of dialogue sessions is to see "how our dialogue advances the mission of peace" and how these sessions can bear fruit -- "fruit that will last."






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