US bishops launch 'crucial conversations' between Catholics and Muslims to counter Islamophobia

A new initiative will encourage "crucial conversations" between Catholics and Muslims in America.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops announced on Monday the launch of a new national Catholic-Muslim dialogue group to combat the climate of fear surrounding Islam.


"As the national conversation around Islam grows increasingly fraught, coarse and driven by fear and often willful misinformation, the Catholic Church must help to model real dialogue and good will," Bishop Mitchell Rozanski of Springfield, Massachusetts, said in a statement.

The bishops' ecumenical and interreligious committee has co-sponsored three regional Catholic-Muslim dialogues in the last 20 years, but this is the first national initiative.

"Our current dialogues have advanced the goals of greater understanding, mutual esteem and collaboration between Muslims and Catholics, and the members have established lasting ties of friendship and a deep sense of trust," Rozanski said.

The national dialogue will work alongside, not instead of, regional Catholic-Muslim dialogues. They are currently operating in the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and West Coast and each is co-chaired by a bishop and a Muslim leader from the region.

The "crucial conversation" at a national level will be headed up by Archbishop Blase Cupich of the Diocese of Chicago, Rozanski said. The Muslim co-chair is yet to be announced.