Muslims, Catholics to gather for dialogue in the US

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SHAFAQNA – Religious leaders from northwest Ohio will come together Thursday for this year’s Catholic-Muslim Dialogue at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in Perrysburg.

The center’s Imam Talal Eid will give a Muslim perspective. The Rev. David Bruning, pastor of St. Caspar Parish in Wauseon, will give a Catholic perspective. The panel, “Muslim-Catholic relations after 50 years of dialogue: Where do we go from here?” will give each person about 20 minutes to share his or her perspective, followed by a question and answer segment with the audience.

The event’s title relates to the 50th anniversary of The Second Vatican Council and the Catholic Church’s resulting stance on those of other faiths, which reads in part: “In her [the church’s] task of promoting unity and love among men, indeed among nations, she [the church] considers above all in this declaration what men have in common and what draws them to fellowship.”

Discussions between people of faith can help them find common ground, Imam Eid said, such as the importance of kindness toward neighbors found in both Christian and Muslim traditions.

“The more we talk to each other, the more we understand one another; the more we understand, the more we contribute to the civilization of our society,” Imam Eid said. “Christians and Muslims in the past were sometimes involved in peaceful relations but most of the time in military conflict. This historical background affects the relationship between people of faith.”

Najwa Badawi, who will moderate the discussion, said the event is an opportunity to have an open discussion between those of different faiths that is not possible in other parts of the world because of war and violence.

“When there is knowledge, then there is less fear,” she said. “People want to speak with their neighbors.”

The effort is especially important following Pope Francis’ trip to the United States, Ms. Badawi said, calling him “a huge advocate for interfaith dialogue.”

The Rev. Bruning echoed the importance for continued dialogue between different faith communities, adding that his personal experiences, including a sabbatical in Jerusalem and years participating in similar events across the Midwest, have increasingly shown him the importance of a good relationship between Catholics and Muslims.

The Toledo-area interfaith dialogue began in 2000, and recently has been held every other year. For the first time this year, it will take place at the Islamic Center. Sponsoring the event are the Catholic and Muslim student associations at UT, the MultiFaith Council of Northwest Ohio, the Center for Religious Understanding at UT, Corpus Christi University Parish, the Toledo Diocese, and the Islamic Center.

The event begins at 7 p.m. at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, 25877 Scheider Rd., Perrysburg. The evening will wrap up with refreshments and a tour of the mosque. It is free and open to the public.

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