US bishops say Muslims, Catholics share religious freedom concerns

Washington D.C., Aug 21, 2012 / 02:05 am (CNA).- In a statement of support and friendship toward the Muslim community, the U.S. bishops' ecumenical committee leader encouraged trust and collaboration between the two faiths, especially in the task of defending religious freedom in the public square.

In an Aug. 17 message, Bishop Denis J. Madden, auxiliary bishop of Baltimore, offered his congratulations to U.S. Muslims on the conclusion of Ramadan, their holy month of fasting and prayer.

Bishop Madden, who chairs the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that he took “great joy” in sharing a message from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue with the U.S. Muslim community.

This message, issued Aug. 3 by the council’s president, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, focused on the importance of the “education of young Christians and Muslims for justice and peace,” which cannot be separated from “truth and freedom.”

Young people must be taught about the need for “solidarity and fraternal love” in order to properly build “a culture which respects the dignity and the rights of every citizen,” read the Pontifical Council’s letter.

It noted that only when men and women have the “patience and tenacity necessary for realizing these ideals” will they “be able to build societies where justice and peace will become realities.”

In addition to the message, Bishop Madden added his own greetings to his Muslim brothers and sisters as they conclude their holy month.

He explained that in working with many members of the Muslim faith “over a long period of time,” he has witnessed “the great trust that has been established in our creative work together.”

“I would like to exhort us all to continue our endeavors in the hope of preparing a sure foundation for the coming generations of American Christians and Muslims,” he said.

This is important, he stressed, because the faithful of the future will “look to us for guidance and as exemplars of the peace and harmony intrinsic to productive, positive interreligious work.”
 
Bishop Madden also highlighted the importance of remaining “close to our own work in the dialogues the need for supporting one another's endeavors to safeguard religious freedom.”

Growing threats to religious freedom have become an increasing concern to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as local and national policies have threatened the ability of the faithful to live out their faith in the public square.

“Together let us commit to joining our voices in support of religious liberty, both for our fellow Christians and Muslims today and for those who will come after us,” the bishop said.

On behalf of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, he offered a pledge of support and friendship to the Muslim community “as we move forward together standing shoulder to shoulder in loving service and fidelity to God.”

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