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A beginning for global Christian-Muslim compatibility

Leaders within the two faiths, meeting at Yale this week, acknowledge dangers of prejudice, pledge to work toward mutual understanding.

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In a three-day conference this week, Christian and Muslim leaders from around the world began shaping their own role in reducing tensions and restoring a sense of hope among their followers.With unusual candor and good will, the group of 140 clergy and religious scholars meeting at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., sought common ground between the faiths and touched on some of the most contentious issues."[O]urs is an effort to ensure that religions heal rather than wound, nourish the human soul rather than poison human relations," they said Thursday in a closing conference statement.

The global gathering was the first in response to "A Common Word between Us and You," ­ the open letter from 138 Muslim leaders to all Christian churches ­­urging dialogue on the basis of the shared principles of loving God and loving one's neighbor. But as some reminded them, many of the faithful are far from applying those values in everyday life.

Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, an author of A Common Word, spoke in opening remarks of the large numbers on both sides who admit to prejudice against the other, and of the dehumanization and demonizing that is a regular practice. This is what Hutus and Tutsis did to one another before the genocide in Rwanda, and what was done to Jews before the Holocaust, he warned, suggesting that sparks from another terrorist attack or war could unleash new horrors.


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