Earlier this year, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago met with Sheikh Abdur Rahman Khan, leader of the Shariah Council of the Islamic Circle of North America. The two are co-chairs of the National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue, which is sponsored by the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
They had convened a meeting in Chicago to discuss a document on “human fraternity” and improving Christian-Muslim relations, that was signed Feb. 4 by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, the grand imam of al-Azhar and a leading religious authority for many Sunni Muslims around the world. They signed the declaration during the pope’s visit to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The document pledges that al-Azhar and the Vatican will work together to fight extremism.
At the Chicago meeting, Cupich said, “The publication of this statement … is a sign of the good that is possible between Christians and Muslims and can serve as a corrective to the false narrative that our two faith traditions are completely at odds, are fated to be enemies.”
“On the contrary, we are brothers and sisters of the one, true God and the document on fraternity serves as a bridge inviting us to cross over the murky water of prejudice and fear that separates us so that we may encounter one another in a spirit of openness, trust and friendship,” Cupich said.
He identified three steps to building fraternity: establishing and nurturing dialogue, striving for cooperation in daily life, and working toward mutual understanding of one another’s beliefs and practices.
Later, writing in America magazine, Cupich suggested that one aspect of Islam and Catholicism that deserves more understanding is the two faith tradition’s long and deep devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus.
“Like Catholics, Muslims believe Mary to be pure, courageous and faithful. They also believe that she was free from sin. The Quran calls her an example for believers, a woman of truth, a sign for all peoples and chosen above all women,” Cupich wrote.
It is because of this shared devotion to Mary that Cardinal Blasé Cupich of Chicago has called Mary “an interreligious bridge” for Christians and Muslims.
To celebrate our shared devotion to Mary, Precious Blood Renewal Center and The Dialogue Institute of Kansas City are hosting the program “Mother Mary in Catholicism and Islam” Oct. 9, 6-8:30 p.m. The evening will include presentations by Muslim and Catholic scholars and dinner.
Speakers will cover three topics: