Benedict XVI and Catholic-Muslim Relations
Interview With Interreligious Dialogue Consultor
ROME, SEPT. 18, 2005 (Zenit) - The new consultor for relations with Muslims of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue says that Benedict XVI is more interested in dialoguing with people than with systems.
Father Daniel Madigan, president of the Institute for Culture and Religions of the Gregorian University in Rome, was recently appointed to his post by the current Pope, and spoke with us on the Holy Father's attitude toward the possibility of meeting with Muslims.
Q: Is Benedict XVI following Pope John Paul II's approach with Muslims, or is he following a different approach?
Father Madigan: It is too soon to sum up the overall approach of the new Pontiff to Muslims, and to compare it with the long years of work in this field done by Pope John Paul II. For me some points of his talk to Muslim representatives in Cologne show something of his style.
The Holy Father several times calls his listeners "dear and esteemed Muslim friends," and I understand that the repeated use of those words was not in his original text given to journalists, but that they reflect his spontaneous words on the occasion.
That to me is an important sign of the tone he wishes the Church to take. It is not new, but it needs to be underlined in these years when things have become so much more polarized between us.
Furthermore, he reaffirmed the Vatican Council II document "Nostra Aetate," saying that it is the Magna Carta of dialogue. This is significant at a time when some people are trying to call into question the authority of the council's positions expressed in that document.
The Holy Father never speaks in that address of "Islam," though he speaks twice of the Islamic faith. This is important because we are inclined to speak of Islam as though it is a single thing. We are overwhelmed by it, because it seems so big.
Yet Benedict XVI points the way by insisting repeatedly (as did the council) on speaking about people, not about systems, about Muslims, not about Islam.
People are sometimes skeptical about the possibility of dialogue; at least one reason for that is that they have lost sight of the actual believers, their neighbors and co-workers, their fellow citizens, and they imagine that dialogue is about dealing with ancient texts and historical doctrines. Only people can dialogue.
The meeting in Cologne showed another important facet of this dialogue -- the Holy Father had no hesitation in speaking honestly about his serious concerns. He did not avoid the obvious truth about the deteriorating situation of our world, nor did he simply blame his "esteemed friends."
Rather, he proposed to work together with them to find a way out. He took them seriously as believers -- indeed, he underlined that "all of us, as Christians and Muslims, are believers" -- and spoke to them honestly out of his own faith and appealing to theirs.
Q: The Pope never speaks of clash but of encounter and alliance of civilization.. Do the Muslims with whom you dialogue always think like this?
Father Madigan: It is noteworthy how absent from his talk is all the language of combat, fighting, struggling, war. He is not simply an easy optimist, but he seems to realize that all that talk of the clash of civilizations can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
"Civilization" is another one of those large abstract ideas that tends to obscure the actual people with whom we deal. People talk about an Islamic civilization, but from the way they describe it, almost none of the Muslims I know belong to it. I deal a lot with Muslims from different countries and walks of life, and they are an extremely varied group of people.
I am fortunate in having daily contact over the last five years with a wonderful group of Muslim students who have come to Rome to study Christianity in order to promote dialogue and understanding. They certainly have not lost hope in dialogue.
An important part of their experience is to get beyond all the talk about "the West" and "Christianity," and to live and work alongside actual Christians -- again, it's people that are the key, not systems.
Q: You are a specialist in Islam and know the texts very well but also so many people. Where do you see the greatest possibilities for dialogue and where are the most serious points of disagreement?
Father Madigan: I enjoy very much the theological dialogue that we have here in the university. However, I am not convinced that the differences between us are really about theology. With patience and hard work we can come to a clearer understanding of each other's different ways of believing in the one God.
What is more difficult, though, is to get at the root of the anger, the resentment and the sense of alienation that so many Muslims (and not only Muslims) experience and that are increasingly exploited to fuel violent reactions from a few.
So many elements enter into the mix which makes our world what it currently is: politics, economics, nationalism, globalization, debt, tribalism, just to name a few. These elements have all to be understood if we hope to change our world.
I see the greatest possibility for dialogue at that level of human experience where we find a desire for a better world. That is where we really meet each other: at that point where our longing for a more just world and fuller life for all resonates with the spirit of God who seeks to "renew the face of the earth."
That may sound very grand and perhaps utopian, but we know from Jesus' parables that the kingdom of God is like a tiny seed or a tender shoot, not a world-shattering system.
It is in the small encounters that God's way shows itself, in the smile, the welcome, the helping hand, the kind word, the small service. These are things common to all of us, and so all of us have a role in the dialogue.
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000
Pope, Benedict, Catholic, Muslim, Madigan
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- California's floods predicted by scientists, but how? HD Video
- 'God gave orders to kill every infidel' - ISIS reveals their favorite ...
- Daily Reading for Thursday, February 23rd, 2017 HD Video
- St. Margaret of Cortona: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, February 22, ...
- Is evolution a lie? The Tully Monster suggests evoluton took some ...
- 'I would like to relinquish my U.S. citizenship' - Priest makes ...
- Daily Readings for Wednesday, February 22, 2017
- Pope Francis tells how to become a saint HD
- Protesters gather to declare allegiance to Islam and hate toward President Trump HD
- Massive storm threatens to flood more than just the Oroville Dam HD
- Daily Reading for Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017 HD
Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.