Christians Seek Stronger Ties With Muslims

A wide range of Christian theologians and leaders has endorsed a document calling for increased efforts to work with Muslims for peace and justice. The move responds to an earlier call from Muslim leaders seeking common ground.

The new document, “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to ‘A Common Word Between Us and You,’” was signed by almost 300 Christians and published in a Sunday, Nov. 18, advertisement in The New York Times.

“Given the deep fissures in the relations between Christians and Muslims today, the task before us is daunting. And the stakes are great,” the statement reads. “The future of the world depends on our ability as Christians and Muslims to live together in peace.”

Four scholars at Yale Divinity School released the document in mid-October, responding to an open letter by 138 Islamic clerics and scholars to Pope Benedict XVI about the need for partnerships aimed at peace.

The Yale document has expanded to include endorsements from such varied Christian voices as Rick Warren, author and pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.; William A. Graham, dean of Harvard Divinity School; Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary; Robert Schuller, founder of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif.; Richard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals; David Neff, editor in chief of the evangelical magazine Christianity Today; and John M. Buchanan, editor of the mainline Protestant magazine The Christian Century.

The Christian leaders acknowledge that people of their faith “have been guilty of sinning against our Muslim neighbors” and ask for forgiveness.

Smaller dioceses report more new priests

Urban Roman Catholic archdioceses may ordain priests in greater numbers, but a higher ratio of Catholics are joining the priesthood in smaller dioceses in the Midwest and Southeast, according to a recent study.

The Archdioceses of Chicago and Newark, N.J., led the way in ordaining 61 and 52 priests, respectively, from 2003-06, according to a review by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

But small dioceses boast more new priests per Catholic, the study found.

For example, Chicago produced one priest for every 38,393 Catholics. But Alexandria, La., offered up one per 4,004, having ordained 12 priests from 2003-06.

Two dioceses — Fargo, N.D., and Lincoln, Neb. — have landed in the top five of new-priest-per-Catholic ratio in every review. Five more — Atlanta; Bismarck, N.D.; Omaha, Neb.; Peoria, Ill.; and Wichita, Kan. — have placed in the top five three times.

From 2003-06, six dioceses with a total of 450,000 Catholics had no ordinations, and eight dioceses with almost 1.4 million Catholics had only one each, according to the review.

Religion News Service