Cardinal Cormac offers support to Muslim leaders

 Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England & Wales and Archbishop of Westminster, on Wednesday told the Principal of the Muslim College that he wants to offer the help of the Catholic community to the Muslim community "in any way that is open to us". Cardinal Cormac made the remark as he welcomed Sheikh Badawi and five senior British Muslim leaders to Archbishop's House, Westminster, for the first formal meeting of its kind since he became Archbishop of Westminster. He told Dr Badawi he wanted to deepen mutual understanding between the two faiths in Britain and to co-operate in areas of common interest. Dr Badawi, who is also Chairman of the Council of Imams and Mosques, said he was delighted to continue the warm relations he had enjoyed with the Cardinal's predecessor, Cardinal Basil Hume, and spoke of the "affection and gratitude" of the Muslim Community towards Catholics, and the need for leaders of the two faiths to "stand together in a time of world tension". At the end of the meeting, it was agreed that Catholic and Muslim leaders should continue to meet regularly and speak together on topics of common concern, notably in favour of the God-given rights of human beings, of the importance of faith in schools, and of community and family. They agreed to stand together against violence in the name of religion and to defend the religious freedoms of each other's faith anywhere in the world that these are being transgressed. It was also suggested that Catholics might be able to offer from their experience of immigration and integration insights that could be of benefit to their Muslim brothers and sisters. Agreed areas of co-operation included: to work together in the care for the sick and feeding of the hungry, to encourage young people of both faiths to meet together in churches and mosques to further their understanding of each other's faith, and to deepen, in as many ways as possible, the bonds of friendship and understanding between the Catholic and the Muslim communities. Apart from Dr Badawi, the Muslims present were Maulana Shahid Raza, executive secretary of the the Muslim Law Council UK, who is an imam at the Central Mosque in Leicester; Sheikh Ashraf Salah, an imam at London's Regent's Park mosque; Yousif Al-Kheoi, the director of the Al-Kheoi Centre; and Ayatollah Dr Sayyid Fadhil Milani, Dean of the International College for Islamic Studies in London. Also attending were Sir Stephen Wall, the cardinal's principal advisor for public affairs; Alfred Agius, director of Westminster Diocese Interfaith; Anthony O'Mahony of the Centre for Interreligious Dialogue at Heythrop College in London; and Cathy Grue, one of the UK co-ordinators of Focolare. Source: Archbishops House

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