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Christian With Muslim Religous Dialogue

From the Small Claims Courts blog of Leo Hura.

Muslim Religious Leaders outlined a basis for dialogue by presenting examples of
sacred writing in both faiths about a shared belief in One God and Love thy
Neighbor. They urge meaningful dialogue leading to practical steps towards
reconciliation.  I’ve written about
the document before. As Religious Leaders prepare for a November summit we
continue to ask whether there is a role for mediators in this process?


One hypothesis I recently heard,
in no uncertain terms is, we don’t need “neutrals”, besides, why should we even
listen to you as we have experience in ecumenical dialogue and have done just
fine?  Does this sound all too
familiar to the mediation community?


In previous blog entries I have
strongly suggested the use of mediators. 
I argued for the parties to tap mediator skills.  I highlighted a few problems which are
unique to religious dialogue, not the least of which are, seemingly
irreconcilable differences in “doctrine” or for Catholics, “dogma.”  If we think the law is sometimes an a_ _
then imagine the challenges inherent to negotiations over religious


Here’s an update of events:


  • Meeting
    with a part of the religious leadership in my home state.  I had an opportunity to meet with an
    interdenominational group of leaders in Hawaii which unfortunately did not include
    Catholic, Muslim, or Jewish leadership. 
    In short they opined:

    • Mediators
      not needed here, direct dialogue does just fine.

    • What
      are your qualifications and why should we listen to you?

    • Thank
      you for the information as we were not aware of the Muslim to Christian
      Religious leader’s letter you cite.

    • Perhaps
      you should contact the group working on ecumenical dialogue.

    • Perhaps
      the Catholics are a good place to start as they numerically represent about
      half of the world’s Christian population.

  • Catholics
    propose and Muslims accept a meeting between the Pope and a select group of
    Muslim religious leaders.   
    In his invitation to the Muslims for a meeting the Pope pointed out a
    number of omissions from the Muslim letter of October 2007 of concerns he
    raised but nonetheless proceeded to invite a select group of Muslim leaders to
    meet with him and to set up a working group.  In response the Muslims agreed to the
    meeting but agreed in their response, complete reconciliation was not
    realistically possible.  Rather
    they opined common ground should be found upon which practical steps could be
    taken.  Perhaps the best which can
    be accomplished is coexistence.

  • I
    wrote to the US Papal Nuncio about my ideas and he responded by saying they
    were forwarded to the experts at the Vatican.

  • The
    Arch Bishop of Canterbury, who has been an active proponent of interreligious
    dialogue suffered two setbacks. 
    In one, a conference of inter-religious dialogue planned for
    Malaysia was cancelled at the last
    minute and the archbishop made statements acknowledging a possibility of
    having to somehow incorporate Sharia law into the judicial system meant to be
    inclusive and his suggestions backfired. 

  • In
    a letter from the American council of Bishops my ideas are acknowledged with a
    proviso that change will be generational and suggest looking for dialogue on a
    local front which led to my request for a meeting with local religious


“Dear Mr.
Hura, thank you for your positive comments on the Common Word statement.  You can look over the work of the USCCB
on Muslim-Catholic Dialogue at under
Departments: Ecumenical and Interreligious, scrolling down to the various items
in the interreligious portion of the site.

At the Common
Word website, please note in particular the statements by Christian Troll, S.J.,
and by Samir Khalil Samir, S.J.  
Also, an insightful analysis by the journalist Sandro Magister came out
this morning at  (English version; you can also access it
via “Why Benedict XVI is So
Cautious with the Letter of the 138 Muslims”.

Ever since the
early Muslim community began attacking the Byzantine and Persian empires, there
have been many good reasons for repentance, regret, reconciliation, forgiveness,
mediation and so forth.  This is not
going to happen very soon, at least in human terms.  With God’s help, anything is
possible.  Humanly speaking, in
addition to studying together and learning from one another, it would also be
good to foster cultural exchanges and common efforts in the field of social
service and humanitarian aid.

 Perhaps your local parish community could
begin a dialogue of friendship and hospitality with the Muslim communities of
Hawaii (see Diana Eck’s site: at Harvard Divinity School, which gives names and addresses of
mosque communities in all 50 states). 
Another approach would be to consult with the University of Hawaii for local programs. 


Please let me
know if I can be of further help.


Faithfully in
Christ, Fr. Francis Tiso, Associate Director, Secretariat for Ecumenical and
Interreligious Affairs, USCCB.”


In subsequent correspondence with
Fr. Tiso I asked how does one keep track of developments in this area.  He suggested:


Cardinal Scola’s periodical,

PIME Father’s site,

Religion News (however
there is a cost for articles)



Where does this people in our
field? From my inquiries, regrettably, it appears like we’re somewhat left out
of current activities and events at the level at which dialogue must occur,
which is the leadership level.  And,
as the first step is deciding on “process” our current exclusion, if that is
what it is, will last for an indefinite period.  As the religious leadership
“negotiators” struggle to find their way in a setting which is increasingly
dominated by radicals, who with a growing number and size of bombs and all to
real horror based rhetoric, can by their words and actions dominate the air
waves and stifle communications about meaningful dialogue, leading to practical
steps towards reconciliation.  At
least religious leaders can find channel by which to separately or jointly
report on developments in this area and when necessary reach out for the support
our field can offer.


[1] Foreign Affairs, March/April 2008, Volume 87, Number 2

[2] posted

[3] posted


Leo Hura

Leo Hura, Mediator -JD - Facilitator -Conflict Resolution Training Program Developer practices mediation out of Honolulu Hawaii.  An experienced mediator Leo has turned his atttention to developing training programs designed to inform, educate, and promote the use of peaceful means for avoiding, preventing, resolving conflict in business with business, business with client, and… MORE >

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