Professor Robert George as a Model of Interfaith Engagement

Professor Robert George as a Model of Interfaith Engagement August 18, 2014

In the recent weeks of the atrocities in Iraq, there have been few intellectual voices more prominent and wholly opposed to ISIS than Professor Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University.

He initiated, and has been outspoken in various ways. Professor George is Catholic and it shows in the measure of his response: a classic both/and. George models the ability to both be appalled by ISIS and have deep respect for Islam.

This past Friday he made these remarks at the Annual Ahmadiyya Muslim Convention (also posted at First Things), where he was given the Ahmadiyya Muslim community’s 2014 Humanitarian Award. He closes with these words:

And so my Ahmadi friends, my brothers and sisters, let us continue to stand together, to work together, to persevere together.  Let us offer ourselves as God’s servants for freedom and dignity, life and liberty, humanity and decency.

George is not the exception in the eyes of the Church; he is the norm. After all, in Nostra Aetate we are taught the following:

The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.

I call all my Catholic brothers and sisters to learn and follow the example of the Church, shown in such a balanced and attuned way by Professor George.


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