A few days ago, I took a phone call from a gentleman who was taking issue with article 841 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This article, part of a section on the Church and non-Christians, states: "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, the adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day.
The gentleman did not agree fully with this article. I suggested he read the entire section of the Catechism on the Church and non-Christians, articles 839 through 848. I hope he did. After the call, I thought about this. Many Catholics are not fully versed on the teachings of the Church about Islam. This situation needs a remedy and I have found one—in my office bookcase
A couple of years ago, the Rev. Elias Mallon, SA, PhD, wrote Islam: What Catholics Need to Know. Published by the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), it is a resource for Catholic administrators and religious educators serving interreligious dialogue. I am learning so much from this book. That's important because the more we know about other people's beliefs, the more we will respect them as we hope they will respect ours. As someone who grew up in religiously diverse Manhattan, I have witnessed how knowledge alters our perceptions for the better. I really regret that I did not have the chance to recommend Fr. Mallon's book to my caller. It's available online at the NCEA Bookstore
Father Mallon, a Friar of the Atonement, was for many years the director of the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute. Currently, he is with the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), a papal agency that provides humanitarian and pastoral support to people in the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe. He represents CNEWA at the United Nations.
Those of you who attended this year's New York Catholic Bible Summit, sponsored by the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office and the American Bible Summit, will recall that Father Mallon gave a highly acclaimed workshop. We are hoping he'll come back for next year's Bible Summit on June 17, 2017. Perhaps you will, too