The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), through its Episcopal Commission for Christian Unity, Religious Relations with the Jews, and Interfaith Dialogue, has published a new resource to coincide with the conclusion of the month of Ramadan (Id al-Fitr, July 18).
The resource is titled A Church in Dialogue: Catholics and Muslims in Canada : Believers and Citizens in Society.
In a letter introducing the document, Archbishop Paul-André Durocher of Gatineau, president of the CCCB, explains that "the pamphlet is meant to help Canadian Catholics better understand their Muslim neighbours."
This is the first time the CCCB has published a resource on relations between Catholics and Muslims in Canada.
The first part presents the origins of Islam, its main currents today, and its similarities with and differences from Christianity. The second part provides an overview of the history and present state of interreligious dialogue between Catholics and Muslims, both at the national and international levels, concluding with some suggestions on how everyone can contribute to such dialogues.
Archbishop Durocher emphasizes that "our country is home to an impressive array of cultures and religions, and the Catholic Bishops of Canada wish to foster understanding and dialogue amongst the diverse people of our land."
The CCCB Commission acts as the Conference's liaison with other Churches, ecclesial communities and religious traditions in Canada. Its involvement in interreligious dialogue is based on and inspired by the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on the Relation of the Church to non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate, promulgated on October 28, 1965, which encouraged deeper understanding between Christians and other faith traditions.
Many local Catholic and Muslim dialogues take place throughout dioceses across Canada, including especially the archdioceses of Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto. In 2008, the Episcopal Commission issued a response to "A Common Word Between Us and You", while an imam and a Muslim woman have addressed the Bishops of Canada at past meetings of their annual Plenary Assembly.
This new resource is part of a series called A Church in Dialogue by the Commission which includes two other documents: "A Church in Dialogue: Catholic Ecumenical Commitment" and "A Church in Dialogue: Towards the Restoration of Unity among Christians".