From 9/11 to 9/12…and beyond.

Thursday is the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the crashed airliner in Shanksville, Pa., an observance that will bring renewed focus on relations between Islam and the West. But the following day, Friday, Sept. 12, will mark two years since “9/12,” the date when Pope Benedict XVI gave a controversial lecture in Germany that cited critical remarks about the Prophet Muhammad and Islam and sparked a violent reaction in many Muslim communities. (Read the full text here.)
That event was in some respects just as pivotal since it put the focus on a religious conflict, not just a “clash of civilizations.” Yet in contrast with America’s post-9/11 strategy, there has been some important progress in relation between Rome and Islam. As I wrote in a column for the Star-Ledger of New Jersey on Sunday:


The date 9/12, like 9/11, became a symbol of a chasm of anger so wide it looked as though it could never be bridged
Two years later, there are signs of progress and even hopes for a rapprochement that could foster wider harmony between Islam and the West.
In July, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah sponsored an international conference on religious liberty. It had to be held in Spain, as Saudi Arabia would not permit interfaith discussions, but it did emerge from a landmark meeting in Mecca in early June at which Islamic scholars affirmed the need and willingness to engage in dialogue with other religions. And it followed Abdullah’s meeting at the Vatican a few months before that — the first reigning Saudi monarch to hold talks with a Roman pontiff.
These developments came on the heels of Benedict’s own rehabilitation visit to Turkey a few months after Regensburg and the announcement that in November, the pope plans to host the first meeting of a new Catholic-Muslim forum, the fruit of a letter sent to Benedict after Regensburg by 138 Muslim scholars who wanted to use the crisis to create an avenue of dialogue rather than recrimination.
But while this represents progress, it’s hardly an end to this chapter in relations between the church and Islam.

Read the rest here

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posted September 10, 2008 at 7:06 pm

What I dont understand is the comment “there has been progress”.
How can there be progress when everything about catholicism is centered and focused on one absolute and undeniable truth:
— “There is only one true church and that is the catholic church.
— Everything else is protestant heresy.”
The pope recently reiterated this point.
That central core doctrine of the catholic faith automatically excludes any dialogue with other beliefs. Actually, the more I
think about it, even saying there could be a dialogue is a pretense,
a blatant premeditated deception.
When viewed in light of the central doctrine of the catholic faith,
these comments are deceitful rhetoric — lies. We have just been lied to again by our clergy.

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posted September 11, 2008 at 8:10 am

Today is also World Day of Prayer.
Why is that so conspicuously absent in catholic
publications and websites?
One would think the church would be thrilled to
embrace the concept of a day of world prayer for
peace. Is there a hidden message in this that we
need to be looking at?

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posted September 11, 2008 at 1:54 pm

Alot of the issues people have on this site and where the rest of the column is relate to the Catholic assertion of one and only Church. Certainly this undermines dialogue with Islam, but perhaps we should look at another way to foster a relationship: work. Both religions place an emphasis on taking care of the marginalized, so perhaps a joint outreach ministry could bear fruit. Put the differences into the workplace of managing a non-profit and see how quickly respect is fostered by works of mercy and justice. And since we aren’t going to gain much by just outright trying to convert one another around a table, at least working together would foster respect for one another’s dignity as believers and workers.

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