Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, made his first visit to a mosque in New York City and it was the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center in Tompkinsville where he met with Muslim and other faith leaders.
The cardinal spent more than two hours touring the mosque and the Miraj Islamic School and having lunch with about 40 clergy and laity.
“I thank God that this day has arrived,” the cardinal said. “I thank you for your welcome, I thank you for making me feel like a friend and a member of a family.”
The cardinal asked questions about the Muslim faith and emphasized throughout his visit how much the two religions and their members have in common.
“You love God, we love God and he is the same God,” the cardinal said of the Muslim and Roman Catholic faiths.
Cardinal Dolan stressed that Catholics and Muslims have a mutual love of the United States and of the religious freedom that this country affords, especially the ability to meet with people of different beliefs that would not be possible in some other nations.
“Your love of marriage and family, your love of children and babies, your love of freedom — religious freedom particularly– your defense of life, your desire for harmony and unity and your care for others, your care for God’s creation and your care for those who are in need,” the cardinal said, were Islamic values also shared by Catholics and areas where there could be mutual cooperation.
He likened Muslims to earlier waves of Roman Catholic immigrants who some 150 years ago faced the same challenge of “how to become loyal, responsible, patriotic Americans without losing their faith.”