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Catholic, Muslim Scholars Cite Hope

November 10, 2017. Collaboration to Promote Integral Human Development

Participants in the November 8, 2017, 4th Catholic-Muslim Forum “noted with satisfaction significant convergences between their respective traditions,” according to the statement released November 10, 2017, following the conference. “Such convergences constitute a motive of hope not only for Christians and Muslims but for all, favoring a meaningful collaboration for the promotion of integral human development.”

The Catholic-Muslim Forum, established in 2008 by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (P.C.I.D.) and the Signatories of the “Open Letter” (A Common Word) to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian Leaders, held its Fourth Seminar in Berkeley (CA, USA), from 6th to 8th November 2017 on the theme, “Integral Human Development: Growing in Dignity. Catholic and Muslim perspectives.”

The Seminar, hosted by Zaytuna College, was held under the patronage of HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, Coordinator of the Muslim side of the Forum, and that of His Eminence Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the P.C.I.D.

The theme was studied under three sub-themes, treated respectively from the Catholic and the Muslims viewpoints: 1) “What does it mean to be human?”; 2) “Integral human development”; and 3) “Obstacles and opportunities to integral human development.”

Twelve persons from each side participated, along with six observers.

The Muslim delegation was led by Shaykh Dr. Hamza Yusuf, President of Zaytuna College, and the Christian delegation by the Most Reverend Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.J., Secretary of the P.C.I.D., on behalf of Cardinal Tauran.

After listening to the presentation of the Papers by Muslim and Catholic Scholars, the participants noted with satisfaction significant convergences between their respective traditions. Such convergences constitute a motive of hope not only for Christians and Muslims but for all, favoring a meaningful collaboration for the promotion of integral human development.

After sharing viewpoints, ideas, and concerns, the participants agreed on the following:

1) Christianity and Islam both assert that God created humanity, placing it at the very summit of creation, for use with gratitude and wisdom with respect for the laws of nature as stewards for the earth and her resources gifted by Almighty God for all generations.

2) God bestowed on every human being inalienable dignity from which fundamental human rights are derived, as well as the obligation of governments to protect them.

3) We assert the equal dignity and value of all persons irrespective of their race, gender, religion, or social status, and we categorically condemn any attempts to stereotype any people or attribute collective guilt to them for the actions of individuals among them.

4) Freedom of conscience and of religion resides at the peak of the edifice of human rights. Therefore, our collective duty demands that we respect, preserve, and promote such rights.

5) God, our Creator, wills the integral growth of every human being for the full flourishing of God’s gifts: body, soul, intellect, and spirit.

6) Christianity and Islam have moral, intellectual, and spiritual resources that can contribute to the integral human development of both individuals and communities. Persons of good will committed to the common good are the natural allies of believers desirous of the holistic development of persons, communities, and all of humanity and the conservation of the environment that sustains us.

7) As believers, we are called to do all we can to address all that hinders the integral development of humanity, including any erroneous interpretations or understandings of our respective sacred texts and traditions.

8) We believe that insecurity, conflicts, and the proliferation of armaments constitute grave obstacles to the realization of God’s will for humanity, its wellbeing and growth in peace and security. This is why we consider it our moral obligation to denounce wars and the arms trade that facilitate them, and instead use humanity’s resources for our personal and collective flourishing.

9) Together, as believers, we assert that those in need of development must be enabled to fulfil their destiny, allowing them to take their rightful place as full members of the human family according to God’s will.