The USCCB response to “A Common Word”


On the Occasion of the Eid al-Fitr al-Mubarak 1428 A.H.

October 13th 2007 A.D.

A group of 138 leading Muslim scholars from many parts of the world has presented an “Open Letter” to Christian leaders calling for peace and understanding between these two religious communities on the basis of the core principles of Islam and of Christianity. The Open Letter is dated to coincide with Eid al-Fitr, the holiest day of Ramadan, which is the month in which Muslims seek spiritual renewal through the practice of fasting and of focused prayer. Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, has also sent the traditional annual greeting for Eid al-Fitr with the reminder that “religious believers have, as servants of the Almighty, a duty above all to work in favor of peace…”

The Open Letter of the Muslim leaders takes up the great themes of love of God and love of neighbor, showing how Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scriptures (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-31; Quran 3:31 and 73:8) teach “complete and total devotion to God.” Our scriptures also enjoin generous love of neighbor, for “without giving the neighbor what we ourselves love, we do not truly love God or the neighbor.” (cf. Quran 2:177; 3:92)(Open Letter p. 11) The Muslim letter resonates with the words of the Apostle James: “My brothers, what good is it to profess faith without practicing it?” (James 2:14, cf. 1:22-27 and I John 2:3, 9-10; 3:14-18) and with the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI of January 26, 2006, “God is Love.”

The Open Letter gives compelling reasons why Muslims and Christians should work together because, “with the terrible weaponry of the modern world, with Muslims and Christians intertwined everywhere as never before, no side can unilaterally win a conflict between more than half of the world’s inhabitants. Thus our common future is at stake.” (Open Letter pg. 16) An even more serious reminder of why we must pass from being adversaries to being peacemakers is that “our very eternal souls are all also at stake if we fail to sincerely make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony.” (Open Letter pg. 16) As Catholics, we look forward to a broad dialogue of civilizations and cultures that will take up the challenges and hopes of the distinguished Muslim authors of this important “Common Word.”