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Students to discuss Catholicism, Islam

Mary Kate Nelson | Thursday, April 19, 2012

Muslim and Catholic scholars will engage in interreligious dialogue during “The Church and Islam: An International Colloquium at the University of Notre Dame” on Thursday and Friday.

Keynote speaker Fr. Samir Khalil Samir, who advises Pope Benedict XVI on Islamic matters, will discuss the relationship between the Catholic Church and Islam Thursday at 8 p.m. in the Andrews Auditorium in Geddes Hall, according to a University press release.

Prominent Muslim scholar and president of the World Religions Research Center Dr. Abdolrahim Gavahi will then respond to Samir’s speech.

Professor John Cavadini said these two addresses serve as a valuable example of official interreligious dialogue.

“It is important not just to talk about [interreligious dialogue], but to actually do it,” Cavadini said. “This is an example of real live dialogue on a theological level. I’d like our students to see it happening.”

Friday morning at 9 a.m., Catholic Notre Dame professors Gabriel Said Reynolds and Lawrence E. Sullivan and Muslim scholars Mehdi Azaiez, Rashied Omar and Rasoul Rasoulipour will participate in a panel discussion on respecting each other’s religion in LaFortune Student Center 202, according to the press release.

Reynolds and Sullivan will discuss their appreciation for the Muslim faith, and Azaiez, Omar and Rasoulipour will discuss their appreciation for the Catholic faith.

Reynolds said this panel discussion will prove individuals can recognize holiness in religions different from their own.

“The purpose of this is to show that the more deeply rooted you are in your faith, the more you can recognize the logic and beauty of another religious tradition,” he said. “There are too many examples of believers who don’t recognize this logic and beauty.”

Cavadini said he also sees great value in Friday’s panel discussion.

“This is a beautiful exercise of the imagination,” he said.

Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m., Samir will return to present a lecture on the relationship between Arab Christians in the East and their Muslim neighbors in DeBartolo Hall 126.

“This is often a forgotten, neglected topic,” Reynolds said.

Jean-Louis Pierre Cardinal Tauran, whom Pope Benedict XVI delegated to undertake official interreligious dialogues, was originally scheduled to speak Thursday. He canceled due to health reasons less than two weeks ago, Cavadini said.

Despite that setback, Cavadini said he is looking forward to the colloquium.

“I think it will be a very high profile and interesting event,” he said. “We need all the mutual understanding between Christianity and Islam we can get.”