Muslims and Catholics to Strengthen Ties

From left: Salam Al Marayati, Shakeel Syed, Sayyid Mustafa Qazwini, Dr. Maher Hathout, Cardinal Roger Mahoney, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, Dr. Ahmad Sakr, Hussam Ayloush, and Father Alexei Smith

Los Angeles, CA: Muslim American leaders of Southern California met earlier today with Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles Archdiocese to discuss the recent statements of Pope Benedict about Islam, and to reaffirm the strong bonds of friendship that have existed between the Catholic and Muslim communities of Los Angeles for several decades.
The Muslim leaders recalled the hurt that many Muslims felt when Pope Benedict quoted a 14th Century Byzantine emperor who stated that Islam was spread by the sword. The Muslim leaders also said that they welcomed the Pope’s subsequent statements clarifying his position on Muslim-Catholic relations, as a step in the right direction. The delegation also condemned the violent acts that targeted Christian churches and people in the wake of the Pope’s initial speech.
Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, Chairman of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, recalled “Nostra Aetate” - the Second Vatican Council’s document on the Church’s relations with non-Christians - urging Muslims and Catholics to re-double their efforts to work more closely on moral, social and civil rights issues. Muslim and Catholic leaders have collaborated on issues of health care, education, immigration and the alleviation of poverty.
“Los Angeles is the capital of interfaith relations and of diversity,” said Dr. Maher Hathout, Vice-Chair of the Shura Council.
Both Cardinal Mahony and the Muslim leaders agreed to create more opportunities at the local level to educate Catholics and Muslims in Southern California about one another and to strengthen the bonds of friendship and cooperation between the two faiths. Cardinal Mahony said the two religions should seize this “teachable moment” to affirm commonalities and increase dialogue in all possible areas.
Muslim leaders and Cardinal Mahony discussed a variety of opportunities for deepening contacts and broadening friendship between Muslims and Catholics in Los Angeles, including the “twinning” of parishes and mosques to promote interfaith understanding; a visit by Cardinal Mahony to a local mosque; and, a joint Catholic-Muslim delegation from Los Angeles that would visit Muslim and Christian communities in the Middle East and the Vatican.
The Muslim American delegation that met Cardinal Mahony at the Archdiocesan Catholic Center in Los Angeles included: Dr. Muzammil Siddiqui, Chairman of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California; Dr. Maher Hathout, Vice-Chair of the Shura; Moustafa al-Qazwini, Imam of Islamic Educational Center of Orange County; Ahmed Sakr, Islamic Educational Center; Shakeel Syed, Executive Director of the Shura Council; Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director of the Southern California of the Council on American Islamic Relations; and Salam Al-Marayati, Executive Director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Also attending the meeting was Father Alexei Smith, Director of Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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