What the Church teaches about interfaith relations:
Catechism of the Catholic Church
"The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."
Pope Saint John Paul II
"Christians and Muslims, in general we have badly understood each other, and sometimes, in the past, we have opposed and even exhausted each other in polemics and in wars.
I believe that, today, God invites us to change our old practices. We must respect each other, and also we must stimulate each other in good works on the path of God.
With me, you know what is the reward of spiritual values. Ideologies and slogans cannot satisfy you nor can they solve the problems of your life. Only the spiritual and moral values can do it, and they have God as their fundament.
Dear young people, I wish that you may be able to help in thus building a world where God may have first place in order to aid and to save mankind. On this path, you are assured of the esteem and the collaboration of your Catholic brothers and sisters whom I represent among you this evening."
Address to Young Muslims, Morocco, August 19, 1985 Click here for full text.
Pope Benedict XVI
"Past experience teaches us that, unfortunately, relations between Christians and Muslims have not always been marked by mutual respect and understanding. How many pages of history record battles and wars that have been waged, with both sides invoking the Name of God, as if fighting and killing the enemy could be pleasing to him. The recollection of these sad events should fill us with shame, for we know only too well what atrocities have been committed in the name of religion. The lessons of the past must help us to avoid repeating the same mistakes. We must seek paths of reconciliation and learn to live with respect for each other’s identity. The defense of religious freedom, in this sense, is a permanent imperative, and respect for minorities is a clear sign of true civilization."
World Youth Day, 2005
We must not yield to fear or pessimism. Rather, we must cultivate optimism and hope. Interreligious and intercultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is in fact a vital necessity on which in large measure our future depends.
Bishop Robert Barron
I had the privilege just a few nights ago to address the annual Iftar Dinner which was held at the Islamic Cultural Center in Niles. This event—at the heart of which is a festive meal signaling the end of the daily Ramadan fast—brings Christians and Muslims together for fellowship, prayer, and conversation. I had been asked to reflect briefly on the topic of the future of religion in America. Given my religiously mixed audience, I decided to speak on the responsibility that all people of faith have in the presence of the growing threat of ideological secularism in our society. A 2008 Pew Forum study showed that the fastest-growing “religious” denomination in American is the “nones,” those who claim no formal religious affiliation. It furthermore showed that there is no substantial difference in the attitudes of believers and non-believers in regard to a wide range of moral and political issues. What both of these data indicate is that secularism—the conviction that God, even if he exists, doesn’t much matter—is on the rise.
I told my largely Muslim audience that, in the face of this threat, all religious believers must be, first, clear and public witnesses to the existence of God.
From "Muslims, Christians and Secularists," Word on Fire read more
“Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalizations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Quran are opposed to every form of violence.”
The Joy of The Gospel, Apostolic Exhortation, Pope Francis, November 24, 2013
Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue: Message for the Month of Ramadan, 2016
4. We, Christians and Muslims, are called to do our best to imitate God. He, the Merciful, asks us to be merciful and compassionate toward others, especially those who are in any kind of need. So too he calls us to be forgiving of of one another
When we gaze upon humanity today, we are saddened to see so many victims of conflict and violence...
5. We cannot close our eyes to these realities, or turn away from these sufferings. It is true that situations are often very complex and that their solution exceeds our capacities. It is vital, therefore, that we all work together in assisting those in need. It is a source of great hope when we experience or hear of Muslims and Christians joining hands to help the needy. When we do join hands, we heed an important command in our respective religions and show forth God's mercy, thus offering a more credible witness, individually and communally, to our beliefs.
May the Merciful and Almighty God help us to walk always along the path of goodness ad compassion!
6. We join our prayerful good wishes to those of Pope Francis for abundant blessings during Ramadan and for a lasting joy of 'Id al-Fitr.'
Happy Feast to you all!
From the Vatican, 10 June 2016. Click here for full text.
Pope Paul VI
"Then [we refer] to the adorers of God according to the conception of monotheism, the Muslim religion especially, deserving of our admiration for all that is true and good in their worship of God.”
Ecclesiam Suam 107, August 6, 1964
“In our prayers, we always remember the peoples of Africa. The common belief in the Almighty professed by millions calls down upon this continent the graces of his Providence and love, most of all, peace and unity among all its sons. We feel sure that as representatives of Islam, you join in our prayers to the Almighty, that he may grant all African believers the desire for pardon and reconciliation so often commended in the Gospels and in the Qur’an.
“Our pilgrimage to these holy places is not for purposes of prestige or power. It is a humble and ardent prayer for peace, through the intercession of the glorious protectors of Africa, who gave up their lives for love and for their belief. In recall the Catholic and Anglican Martyrs, We gladly recall also those confessors of the Muslim faith who were the first to suffer death, in the year 1848, for refusing to transgress the precepts of their religion.”
Address to the Islamic Communities of Uganda, August 1, 1969
The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops
The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops has a wide range of resources encouraging Catholic-Muslim understanding and cooperation. Click here for their official response to Muslim scholars' invitation to unity,
A Common Word.
This is an excerpt from their statement on Dialogue with Muslims:
:"Sadly, in recent years, there has been a deliberate rejection of this call to engage in dialogue with our Muslim brothers and sisters by some in the Catholic Church and in other ecclesial families. We understand the confusion and deep emotions stirred by real and apparent acts of aggression and discrimination by certain Muslims against non-Muslims, often against Christians abroad. We, and increasingly our Muslim partners in dialogue, are concerned about these very real phenomena. Along with many of our fellow Catholics and the many Muslims who themselves are targeted by radicals, we wish to voice our sadness, indeed our outrage, over the random and sometimes systematic acts of violence and harassment—acts that for both Christians and Muslims threaten and disrupt the harmony that binds us together in mutual support, recognition, and friendship.
Still, it is our belief that the most efficient way to work toward ending or at least curtailing such violence and prejudice is through building networks of dialogue that can overcome ignorance, extremism, and discrimination and so lead to friendship and trust with Muslims." Click here for complete text.
The 2013 document Understanding Islam: A Guide for Educators is a superb 15-page summary of the history and core teachings of Islam. The document is deeply respectful of the Islam without glossing over important differences.
Second Vatican Council
Nostra Aetate: Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions
“3. 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 Muslims, 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.
Document of the Second Vatican Council, proclaimed by His Holiness Pope Paul VI, October 28, 1965. For the full document click here.
Diocesan offices can be an excellent resource for local interreligious dialogue. Many dioceses have a formal statement on Muslim-Catholic relations. Here is an excerpt from the agreement signed by the Bishop of Rochester, N.Y. and local Muslim representatives
."We jointly declare our dedication to challenge continuously all forms of religious, ethnic intolerance, and bigotry through active promotion of mutual understanding and respect for human life and dignity.
a. By responding openly to acts of religious, racial, ethnic or any other kind of intolerance.
b. By investing time, labor and talents to sensitizing our own communities to the evils of such intolerance.
c. By informing and educating each other on matters of public concern."
Click here for the complete text.
A thoughtful article from the St. Paul/Minneapolis Catholic Spirit, "Can Catholics and Muslims Get Along?"