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‘A Common Word’ in the News

Dialogue for Catholics and Muslims

In November 2007, 138 Muslim scholars and clerics presented a
declaration of common ground between Christianity and Islam, called “A
Common Word Between Us and You,” hoping to create a basis for future
dialog.

At the declaration’s “official” website (www.acommonword.com), a
summary states, “Whilst Islam and Christianity are obviously different
religions—and whilst there is no minimising some of their formal
differences—it is clear that the Two Greatest Commandments are an area
of common ground and a link between the Qur’an, the Torah and the New
Testament.”

Pope Benedict XVI’s response was guarded but warm. “Without ignoring
or downplaying our differences as Christian and Muslims,” he wrote in a
letter to one of the declaration’s signatories, Prince Ghazi, “we can
and therefore should look to what unites us, namely belief in the one
God, provident Creator and universal Judge who at the end of time will
deal with each person according to his or her actions. We are all
called to commit ourselves totally to him and obey his sacred will.”
[11-27-07]

A year later, however, Pope Benedict XVI hosted the first
Catholic-Muslim forum at the Vatican. Among 15 points of common
concern, forum participants agreed that individuals must be free to
choose in matters of conscience and to practice their religion in
private and public, with the Vatican emphasizing that Christian
churches must enjoy the same rights in Muslim countries that Muslims
enjoy in the West.

There has also been a Special United Nations General Assembly on
Interfaith Dialogue in November 2008, convened to discuss a “Culture of
Peace” among Christians and Muslims. According to Rayed Krimly, special
envoy of Saudi Arabia, the meeting seeks “to send a unified clear
message that the world community is in consensus in promoting
interfaith dialogue and speaking against extremism, intolerance, and
terrorism.”

Stephanie Block block is the editor of Los Pequenos -
a New Mexico-based publication. Her columns are made possible by the
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