Monday, October 02, 2006

Detroit Cardinal, Muslims reaffirm dialogue

By: Tarek M. Baydoun / The Arab American News

Dearborn - As Pope Benedict's quotation of negative remarks about Islam continued to be the source of controversy and tension in many parts of the world, Cardinal Adam Maida of the Archdiocese of Detroit visited the Islamic Center of America (ICA) Thursday morning for a meeting between Catholic and Muslim community leaders.

The meeting was scheduled to reaffirm commitment by these leaders to dialogue and cooperation Cardinal Maida returned to a community he is very familiar with. He became the first Cardinal to visit a mosque in the metro Detroit area in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks and the stigma impressed on the local Muslim community following the national tragedy. Cardinal Maida and Imam Qazwini have participated in several interfaith dialogues since then, working together to promote peace and progress. Cardinal Maida was received at the ICA by Imam Hassan Qazwini and a host of local Muslim leaders who met privately with their Catholic colleagues prior to the press conference. Muslim dignitaries accompanying Qazwini included Imam Mohammad Mardini, Imam Achmat Salie, Imam Mohammed Musa, Dawud Walid, Imam Mohammed Elahi, Edward Beydoun, Hussein Makled, Allie Fayz, Charles Aalwan, Talal Turfe, Yehya Basha, Imam Mustapha Elturk, Imam Abdullah Bey Al-Amin and Victor Begg. Bishop Francis Reiss and Msgnr. Patrick Halfpenny joined Cardinal Maida on his visit.

Qazwini welcomed the Cardinal and the other Catholic guests with a recitation of the Qur'an (49:13) “ O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other”. Imam Qazwini said that although many Muslims were rightfully offended by the Pope’s remarks, Muslims and Catholics should focus on the positive effects of the controversy. According to Imam Qazwini, dialogue has been inspired across the globe, and positive change is likely to occur as a result. Cardinal Maida insisted that the meeting should not be seen solely as a reaction to the controversial comments by the Pope, but rather as “one more opportunity to affirm our friendship and commitment to dialogue.” “I am here today to reaffirm, strengthen and renew the long-standing positive rapport we have enjoyed over the years… Catholics and Muslims have stood in solidarity to promote issues concerning the dignity of the human person,” Cardinal Maida said.Despite the warming reception between Muslims and Christian leaders locally, many Muslims around the world insisted that the Pope’s clarification and apology didn’t go far enough.

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