THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND ISLAM – the fundamental attitude by Rev. Dr John Dupuche
The following pages show both the fundamental attitude of the Catholic Church towards Islam and the manner in which this attitude is being lived out in practice on the Melbourne scene.
PART I: Foundational statements:
- The Second Vatican Council, in a watershed statement concerning all non-Christian religions and therefore concerning Islam, proclaims that:
“The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions. …. The Church, therefore, urges her [children] to enter with prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions. Let Christians, while witnessing to their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians, also their social life and culture.”
- More particularly it states with regard to Islam:
“… the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Moslems: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”
These texts, brief but of the highest authority, are constantly quoted in subsequent documents and speeches of the Magisterium.
- Furthermore, Pope John Paul II, who has played an outstanding role in promoting interfaith dialogue, has stated in terms that our Muslims brothers and sisters may not necessarily share but which show the immense respect that the Catholic Church holds for them:
“salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make [members of other faiths] formally part of the Church but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his Sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit.”
“God is the Father of all humanity; Christ has joined every person to himself; the Spirit works in each individual.”
These views inform the many and varied statements he has made during the twenty-five years of his Pontificate.
PART II: Some key issues
The essential principle is spelt out by a telling phrase from the Second Vatican Council:
“Let there be unity in what is necessary, freedom in what is unsettled and charity in any case.” 
- A common faith
John Paul states:
“Christians and Muslims have many things in common, as believers and as human beings. We live in the same world, marked by many signs of hope, but also by multiple signs of anguish. For us, Abraham is a model of faith in God, of submission to his will and of confidence in his goodness. We believe in the same God, the one God, the living God, the God who created the world and brings his creatures to their perfection.
It is therefore toward this God that my thought goes and that my heart rises. It is of God himself that, above all, I wish to speak with you; of him, because it is in him that we believe, you Muslims and we Catholics. I wish also to speak with you about human values, which have their basis in God, these values which concern the blossoming of our person, as also that of our families and our societies, as well as that of the international community. The mystery of God – is it not the highest reality from which depends the very meaning which man gives to his life?”
The Sacred Council readily admits that the relations with Muslims have not always been good:
“Over the centuries may quarrels and dissensions have arisen between Christians and Muslims. The Sacred Council now pleads with all to forgive the past, and urges that a sincere effort be made to achieve mutual understanding; for the benefit of all men, let them together preserve and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values.”
Profoundly aware of the damage that has been done by such disputes, John Paul II, in the Year of Jubilee, 2000, led Prayers of Intercession during a Solemn Liturgy at St Peter’s in which he, on behalf of the whole Church, confessed the sins of the past and asked for forgiveness. The fifth of these Prayers was entitled ‘Confession of sins committed in actions against love, peace, the rights of peoples, and respect for cultures and religions’.
“Archbishop Stephen Fumio Hamao:
Let us pray that contemplating Jesus, our Lord and our Peace, Christians will be able to repent of the words and attitudes caused by pride, by hatred, by the desire to dominate others, by enmity towards members of other religions and towards the weakest groups in society, such as immigrants and itinerants.
The Holy Father:
Lord of the world, Father of all, through your Son you asked us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us and to pray for who persecute us. Yet Christians have denied the Gospel; yielding to a mentality of power, they have violated the rights of groups and peoples, and shown contempt for their cultures and religious traditions: be patient and merciful towards us, and grant us your forgiveness! We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
The Church wishes to recognise the damage that has been done in the past and to replace divisiveness with harmony. This sincere repentance is on going and makes the Church especially sensitive to attitudes of contempt.
3. Freedom of conscience:
It follows that dissension is not the way to proceed nor can truth be imposed. The Pope states:
“Honesty impels me to admit that Christians and Muslims have not always treated each other in ways that reflect the immense goodness of God. In some parts of the world there are still tensions between our two communities and Christians are the victims of discrimination in several countries. Muslim‑Christian dialogue still must develop before we arrive at a point of true conviviality to ensure mutual respect for freedom of conscience and worship, with equal treatment of both groups, no matter where they live. …
I repeat that appeal to you today. Let us together make a sincere effort to come to a deeper mutual understanding. Let our collaboration for humanity, in the name of God, be a blessing and benefit for all people!”
The rejection of “quarrels and dissensions” and the repentance for the sins of the past lead to a policy of cooperation with Muslims in the works of peace. This theme is constantly emphasised.
“The close bonds linking our respective religions – our worship of God and the spiritual values we hold in esteem – motivate us to become fraternal allies in service to the human family. As I said to the Islamic community of Kenya five years ago: “Our relationship of reciprocal esteem and mutual desire for authentic service to humanity urge us to joint commitments in promoting peace, social justice, moral values and all the true freedoms of man” (May 7,1980).
The evils of suspicion, competition and misunderstanding spring up too easily in our modem world; in far too many places we witness violence, conflict and war. But it is never God’s will that hatred should exist within the human family, that we should live in distrust and at enmity with one another. We are all children of the same God, members of the great human family. Our religions have a special role to fulfill in curbing these evils and in forging bonds of trust and fellowship. God’s will is that those who worship him, even if not united in the same worship, would nevertheless be united in brotherhood and in common service for the good of all.”
- No proselytism:
Consistently with this attitude, proselytism is rejected. While the Catholic Church will not deny its faith or fail to give witness to it, the Church rejects any means that would attempt to pre-empt the action of God.
“Both among Christians working for unity in obedience to Christ and among believers of different religions, there is no place for aggressive proselytism which disturbs and hurts, still less for the use of unworthy methods. For our part, we uphold our principles and beliefs, respect for the human person, respect for religious freedom, and faith in the action of the Holy Spirit who works in inscrutable ways to accomplish God’s loving plan for humanity. As Evangelii Nuntiandi reminds us: “The Church seeks to convert solely through the divine power of the message she proclaims” (EN n.18). Entrusted by her Lord with the fullness of revelation, she bears faithful witness to it in Malawi before other Christians, the members of other world religions, and those who follow the traditional religious practices inherited from their ancestors.”
- No fundamentalism:
The Catholic Church dissociates itself from the pernicious fundamentalism, which is found both among those who profess to be Christians and among those who claim to be Muslim. John Paul warns that one fundamentalism must not be allowed to provoke another.
“The subject you have chosen for your exchange is a sensitive one: Fundamentalism in Islam and Christianity. Indeed, we notice such attitudes in various milieus; realizing this you are able to proceed to an objective analysis of this phenomenon in Islam.
… You need to take a certain distance and to remain level‑headed to carry out your mission in this context. The phenomenon of fundamentalism must be studied in all of its motivations and manifestations. The analysis of the political, social and economic situations shows that this phenomenon is not only religious but that, in many cases, religion is exploited for political purposes or else to offset social and economic difficulties.
A lasting response to fundamentalism cannot be found until the problems that cause or nurture it are resolved.
While intolerance and the violence fostered by fundamentalism must be condemned, it is of the utmost importance to look with faith and love upon the people who take these attitudes and who often suffer from them.”
PART III: The Melbourne scene:
Relations between Muslims and Catholics in Melbourne are progressing on a sound and cordial basis. Some events will be mentioned that show the variety and quality of these relations; many episodes are omitted so as not to lengthen this intervention unduly. No reference is made to the extensive Muslim-Catholic dialogue fruitfully taking place in Sydney nor is reference made to the many successful activities conducted between Muslims and other Christian denominations or to the valuable cooperation between Muslims and other bodies, both governmental and societal.
Interreligious dialogue is sometimes divided into four categories: the dialogue of life, where people of different faiths mingle and meet; the dialogue of cooperation, where they engage in common tasks; the dialogue of experts who explore their respective traditions in a more academic fashion; the dialogue of religious experience, where people share at the deepest level.
The dialogue of life:
In keeping with this form of dialogue the Catholic Church wishes her members to live harmoniously in the ordinary interchange of every day, in friendship and mutual respect. John Paul states the general approach:
“You share with the Christians the same citizenship, which you have acquired by living here and by participating in the life of the nation, with all the obligations and duties that this involves. In addition to your Philippine nationality and to the other qualities and values common to all Filipinos, you are conscious of being the bearers of certain specific qualities, among which the culture of Islam is perhaps the most obvious. This is what adds to your shared national identity an original element that merits attention and respect. Your total well-being and that of your Christian brothers and sisters requires a climate of mutual esteem and trust. You know as well as I do that in the past this climate has too often deteriorated, to the detriment of all concerned. But dear friends, we know only too well that there is no positive reason why that past should continue being written today. If at all, we should look back with pain at the past, in order to ensure the establishment of a better future. You have the task, both enviable and crucial, of helping to build that future, the future of your Muslim children, as well as the harmonious nature of the whole Philippine nation. ….
Dear Muslims, my brothers: I would like to add that we Christians, just like you, seek the basis and model of mercy in God himself, the God to whom your Book gives the very beautiful name of al‑Rahman, while the Bible calls him al‑Rahum, the Merciful One. ….
My dear friends: I wish you to be convinced of the fact that your Christian brothers and sisters need you and they need your love. And the whole world, with its longing for greater peace, brotherhood and harmony, needs to see fraternal coexistence between Christians and Muslims in a modern, believing and peaceful Philippine nation.”
The Melbourne scene:
Every year, at the conclusion of Ramadan, the Archbishop of Melbourne sends greetings to the Muslim Community through the good offices of the President of the Islamic Council of Victoria, (at present Mr Yasser Soliman). In 2002 these greetings were personally presented to Mr Soliman by the then Vicar General (now Bishop) Christopher Prowse.
On 30 November, 2002, at the invitation of the Australian Intercultural Society, a Turkish Muslim group which seeks to promote relations between religions in Australia, some Catholic Priests and laity attended a banquet celebrating the month of Ramadan. This was repeated even more extensively in 2003.
On 2 February 2003, the same Australian Intercultural Society attended Mass at St Joseph’s church, Black Rock, and Stella Maris, Beaumaris. They were welcomed at the start of Mass and invited to address the congregation at the end of Mass with whom they then shared refreshments. The event was notable for its harmony and good will.
On June 18, 2003, five Catholic Priests and five Imams gathered at the North Carlton Mosque, simply to meet each other and talk about their journey of life, their forms of training and the respective pastoral activities. The meeting was a resounding success as judged by the sense of shared spiritual endeavour and mutual regard. The gathering was notably free of suspicion or animosity of any kind. Given the success of this event, another such meeting is mooted for later this year.
It can be noted in this context that the Religious Education Texts for Year 10, which are to be used in all Catholic Secondary Schools, comprise a section on Islam that was reviewed and deemed acceptable by a member of the Islamic Council of Victoria. Thus all students graduating from Catholic Secondary Schools should have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the basic tenets of Islam and so be able to contribute to social understanding and harmony.
The dialogue of cooperation:
In this dialogue, Muslims and Catholic join together for various purposes, whether in work of charity or in projects for peace. John Paul refers to the dialogue in the following words:
“Every year it is the custom of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to send a message of greetings, on behalf of Catholics around the world, to Muslims on the occasion of your Feast of the Breaking of the Fast at the end of the month of Ramadan. This year, because of the tragic effect of the past months of conflict and war in the Middle East, and the continued suffering of so many, I have decided to send you these greetings myself. ….
To all Muslims throughout the world, I wish to express the readiness of the Catholic Church to work together with you and all people of good will to aid the victims of the war and to build structures of a lasting peace not only in the Middle East, but everywhere. This cooperation in solidarity toward the most afflicted can form the concrete basis for a sincere, profound and constant dialogue between believing Catholics and believing Muslims, from which there can arise a strengthened mutual knowledge a trust, and the assurance that each one everywhere will be able to profess freely and authentically, his or her own faith.”
The Melbourne scene:
In January 2003, members of the Islamic Council of Victoria and of the Catholic Interfaith Committee – a sub-committee of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission – formed the Muslim Catholic Working Group in order to explore ways in which the Catholic Church and the Muslim Community might work towards mutual understanding and support. This Group meets monthly.
At no stage in any of our frequent meetings has there been any sense of threat or any attempt to coerce. On the contrary, there has been the pleasure of stretching hands out over a great distance, so to speak, and greeting those who for too long have been separated.
- The result of one of the earliest meetings of the Muslim Catholic Working Group was to initiate a joint statement condemning terrorism eventually signed by heads of the Muslim Community and by the Heads of Churches associated with the Victorian Council of Churches.
- The Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission lent its support to the application by the Islamic Council of Victoria for a grant under the Government project Living in Harmony. The Catholic Church is happy to be a ‘stakeholder’ in this grant, which has since been approved.
- On September 17, 2003, at a meeting between Archbishop Hart, Mr Yasser Soliman (President of the Islamic Council of Victoria) and Sheik Rezchep Idrizi (Chairman of the Board of Imams) etc., Archbishop Hart clearly stated his wish that the Catholic Church in Melbourne cooperate with the Muslim Community to the benefit of both and to the advantage of society in general. These sentiments were reciprocated by the Muslim leaders.
- The dialogue of experts:
In this dialogue, scholars and informed members explore significant themes and issues in a somewhat more academic manner. The Catholic Church engages in this dialogue since it acknowledges the depth of the Muslim faith and the breadth of Islamic culture.
“The Arabs of the Mashriq and the Maghreb, and Muslims in general, have a long tradition of study and of erudition: literary, scientific, philosophy. You are the heirs to this tradition. You must study in order to learn to know this world which God has given us, to understand it, to discover its meaning, with a desire and a respect for truth, and in order to learn to know the peoples and the men created and loved by God, so as to prepare yourselves better to serve them.”
Christianity also has its depth of faith and culture. The dialogue of experts can proceed only on the basis of mutual respect. The Pope states again:
“The Catholic Church regards with respect and recognizes the equality of your religious progress, the richness of your spiritual tradition. We Christians, also, are proud of our own religious tradition.
I believe that we, Christians and Muslims, must recognize with joy religious values that we have in common, and give thanks to God for them. Both of us believe in one God, the only God, who is all justice and mercy; we believe in the importance of prayer, of fasting, of almsgiving, repentance and of pardon; we believe that God will be a merciful judge to us at the end of time, and we hope that after the resurrection he will be satisfied with us and we know that we will be satisfied with him.
Loyalty demands also that we should recognize and respect our differences. Obviously the most fundamental is the view that we hold on the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth. You know that, for Christians, Jesus causes them to enter into an intimate knowledge of the mystery of God and into a filial communion by his gifts, so that they recognize him and proclaim him Lord and Savior.”
The Melbourne scene:
- In 2001 a ‘Conversation’ was conducted at the West Melbourne Mosque between Muslims and Catholics, Priests, Imams and laity, on the theme of ‘Journey’.
- On 20 April, 2002, at the Moonee Ponds Clock Tower, Muslims and Christians (many of whom were Catholics) met, at the initiative of the Australian Intercultural Society (a Turkish Muslim group) and partly financed by the (Catholic) Columban Missionary Society, to explore the topic ‘Peace and Dialogue in a Plural Society’. An eminent range of scholars, national and international, took part in this Conference.
- In 2002, the third International Prayer and Spirituality in the Early Church conference was held at the Australian Catholic University. A significant section of the conference was devoted to interaction between Muslim, Jewish, and Christian speakers.
- In 2002 another like ‘Conversation’ was conducted at ‘Dorish Maru’ within the Catholic Yarra Theological Union on the theme of ‘Living the faith in an multifaith society’.
- On 23 March, 2003, again at the Clock Tower, Jews, Muslims, and Christians took part in a symposium partly financed by the Columban Missionary Society and also financially supported by the Archdiocese of Melbourne, among others, on the theme of ‘Abraham’. Again, the range of scholars both from Australia and from abroad was impressive.
- In July 2003, at Xavier College, Kew, the Jesuit Fathers conducted a meeting attended by several hundred people, which was addressed by Prof. A. Saeed of Melbourne University and Fr Dan Madigan SJ from the Gregorian University, Rome, on the subject of relations between Islam and the Catholic Church. This meeting, chaired by Fr Brennan S.J., was repeated in the other capital cities of Australia.
- On 31 August 2003, a Symposium arranged by the Catholic Interfaith Committee was held at Yarra Theological Union, which drew together Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish and Muslim speakers (the Muslim speaker was Dr A.K. Kazi, former head of the Department of Islamic Studies at Melbourne University). The presentations and discussions, indeed the whole tenour of the meeting produced a notable enthusiasm for further dialogue.
- The dialogue of experience:
While this normally takes the form of sharing religious experience in tranquil settings, it is to be noted that the Catholic Church also rejoices to have shared the experience of martyrdom – surely among the most profound of spiritual experiences – with Muslims. Paul VI stated:
“Our pilgrimage to these holy places is not for purposes of prestige or power. It is a humble and ardent prayer for peace, through the intercession of the glorious protectors of Africa, who gave up their lives for love and for their belief. In recalling the Catholic and Anglican Martyrs, We gladly recall also those confessors of the Muslim faith who were the first to suffer death, in the year 1848, for refusing to transgress the precepts of’ their religion.
May the shining sun of peace and brotherly love rise over this land, bathed with their blood by generous sons of the Catholic, Christian and Muslim communities of Uganda, to illuminate Africa! And may this, Our meeting with you, respected representatives of Islam, be the symbol of, and first step toward that unity for which God calls us all to strive for his greater glory, and for the happiness of this blessed continent!”
The question of shared prayer is difficult and will not be resolved in these pages. However, John Paul II has wished to express joint prayer to the extent that it is possible.
“I would like to close our gathering with a short prayer which reflects the spiritual aspirations which Muslims and Christians hold in common:
O God, you are our Creator.
You are good and your mercy knows no bounds.
To you arises the praise of every creature.
O God, you have given us an inner law by which we must live.
To do your will is our task.
To follow your ways is to know peace of heart.
To you we offer our homage.
Guide us on all the paths we travel upon this earth.
Free us from all the evil tendencies which lead our hearts away from your will.
Never allow us to stray from you.
God, Judge of all humankind, help us to be included among your chosen ones on the last day.
God, Author of justice and peace, give us true joy and authentic love, and a lasting solidarity among peoples.
Give us your everlasting gifts. Amen!
May the God of mercy, the God of love, the God of peace bless each of you and all the members of your families!”
The Melbourne scene:
- On Pentecost Sunday 2000, at St Patrick’s Cathedral, in the year of the Great Jubilee, Sheik Isse Musse, Imam of the West Melbourne Mosque, took part in a Ceremony of Collaboration for Peace together with representatives of the Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish and Christian faiths. In this ceremony, hosted by the then Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr G. Pell, Sheik Isse recited from the Qur’an to which all listened respectfully in silence; he later announced a prayer intention.
- On 26 October 2002, at the Shiva Ashram, the East West Meditation Foundation, a largely though not officially Catholic group, initiated together with members of the Ashram an interfaith gathering in which Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Christians took part in all four types of dialogue, notably the experience of meditating together. This gathering was impressive for its harmony and for the depth of experience it engendered.
- On 14 June, 2003, at Stella Maris Catholic Parish, Beaumaris, the Australian Intercultural Society took part in a meditative celebration entitled ‘From sound to silence’ along with Aborigines, Hindus, and Christians.
- On 11 October 2003, the Australian Intercultural Society hosted an interfaith gathering at Isik College, Broadmeadows.
The above statements have been made by the Magisterium of the Church. What follows is a joint declaration by official bodies of the Muslim world and of the Catholic Church. It constitutes a joint Islamic-Catholic Statement on Terrorism and Peace.
“The Joint Committee of the Permanent Committee of Al-Azhar for Dialogue with the Monotheistic Religions and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue held its annual meeting, hosted this year by Al Azhar al-Sharîf, in Cairo 24-25th February 2003 / 23-24 Dhu-l-Hijja, 1423. Those present were Sheikh Fawzi al-Zafzaf, Dr Ali Elsamman, Dr Mustafa al-Shak`a, H.E. Nabil Badr, H.E. Fathi Marie, H.E. Mons. Michael Fitzgerald, H.E. Mons. Marco Dino Brogi, Mons. Khaled Akasheh, Mons. Jean-Marie Speich and the Rev Daniel Madigan.
- The main topic for discussion was the phenomenon of terrorism and the responsibility of religions to confront it. The following points were stressed:
— The two religions, Islam and Christianity, reject oppression and aggression against the human person, as also the violation every person’s legitimate right to life and the right to lead that life in security and in peace.
— The sacred texts in both religions must be understood in their proper context. Isolating passages from their context and using them to legitimise violence is contrary to the spirit of our religions.
— Care must be taken to distinguish between the sacred texts and teachings of our religions on the one hand, and the behaviour and actions of some of their followers on the other hand. It is the duty of religious authorities to provide an authentic explanation of the sacred texts and in so doing to safeguard the true image of each religion.
— Given the importance of the correct understanding of each other’s religions, it is proposed that meetings be arranged for lecturers in comparative religion, to provide contextualized experience of the other religion and to enable common reflection on the teaching of a religion that is not one’s own. Such meetings could also be occasions for public conferences.
- The current situation made it necessary for the Joint Committee to reflect on the likely consequences of the war threatening Iraq. The Committee condemned recourse to war as a means of resolving conflicts between nations. War is a proof that humanity has failed. It brings about enormous loss of human life, great damage to the basic structures of human livelihood and the environment, displacement of large populations, and further political instability.
In the present circumstances there is the added factor of increased tension between Muslims and Christians on account of the mistaken identification of some Western powers with Christianity, and of Iraq with Islam.
We strongly affirm that double standards are to be avoided. Peace, which is inseparable from justice, requires the fulfilment of all international obligations. This principle applies generally and is therefore applicable to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The resolution of this conflict would contribute to resolving many of the outstanding problems of the Middle East.
The Muslim members of the Committee welcomed the clear policy and strenuous efforts of His Holiness Pope John Paul II in favour of peace. The Catholic members of the Committee expressed their appreciation for Muslim religious leaders, including the Grand Imam, Sheikh al-Azhar M. Sayyid Tantawi, who have raised their authoritative voices in defence of peace.
- The Joint Committee was informed of the conference that was held in Vienna on the 3rd of July 2002, in which the Permanent Committee for Dialogue of al-Azhar suggested the preparation of a charter for interreligious dialogue. In this charter two points of fundamental importance for dialogue will be i) the rejection of generalizations when speaking of each other’s religions and communities, and ii) the ability to be self-critical. This proposal was welcomed by the Joint Committee.”
The Catholic Church, learning from the experience of decades and centuries, has adopted an approach, which is respectful and indeed more true to the Gospel. The Catholic Church in Melbourne does not wish to see the Muslim Community, which it cherishes, adversely affected by unwarranted attitudes and approaches.
Bibliography of works cited in the footnotes:
‘Dogmatic Constitution on the Church’ (Lumen Gentium), in Flannery A. Vatican Council II, the Conciliar and Post-conciliar Documents, Collegeville, Minnesota, The Liturgical Press, 1975. pp. 350-440.
‘Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions’ (Nostra Aetate). In Flannery A. Vatican Council II, the Conciliar and Post-conciliar Documents, Collegeville, Minnesota, The Liturgical Press, 1975. pp.738-742.
‘Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World’ (Gaudium et Spes), in Flannery A. Vatican Council II, the Conciliar and Post-conciliar Documents, Collegeville, Minnesota, The Liturgical Press, 1975. pp.903-1014.
Gioia, F. (ed.), Interreligious Dialogue, the Official Teaching of the Catholic Church, (1963-1995). Boston, Pauline Books, 1997. 694 pp.
International Theological Commission, Memory and Reconciliation, the Church and the faults of the past. Strathfield, NSW, St Paul’s Publications, 2000. 95pp.
John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio. ‘On the permanent validity of the Church’s missionary mandate’. 7 December, 1990. http://www.papalencyclicals.net/all.htm
 ‘Declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions’ (Nostra Aetate), in Austin Flannery, Vatican Council II, the Conciliar and Post-conciliar Documents, Collegeville, Minnesota, The Liturgical Press, 1975. p.739.
 ‘Dogmatic Constitution on the Church’ (Lumen Gentium), in Flannery, Vatican Council II, p. 367.
 John Paul II, ‘To the Plenary Session of the Secretariat for Non-Christians, Rome, March 3, 1984’, in Francesco Gioia (ed.), Interreligious Dialogue, the Official Teaching of the Catholic Church, (1963-1995). Boston, Pauline Books, 1997. p.268.
 ‘Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World’ (Gaudium et Spes), n.92, in Flannery, Vatican Council II, p.1000.
 John Paul II, ‘To the Young Muslims of Morocco, Casablanca, August 19, 1985’, in Gioia, Interreligious Dialogue, p.297.
 ‘Declaration of on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions’ (Nostra Aetate) in Flannery, Vatican Council II, para.3, p.740.
 International Theological Commission, Memory and Reconciliation, the Church and the faults of the past. Strathfield, NSW, St Paul’s Publications, 2000. pp. 88-89.
 John Paul II, ‘To the Islamic Leaders of Senegal, Dakar, February 22, 1992’, in Gioia, Interreligious Dialogue, pp.478-479.
 John Paul II, ‘To Muslim and Hindu Representatives of Kenya, Nairobi, August 18, 1985’, in Gioia, Interreligious Dialogue, p. 296.
 John Paul II, ‘To the bishops of Malawi, Blantyre, May 5, 1989’, in Gioia, Interreligious Dialogue, p. 402.
 John Paul II, ‘To a Franciscan Group Involved in Dialogue with Muslims, Castelgandolfo, August 26, 1995’, in Gioia, Interreligious Dialogue, p.552.
 ‘The Attitude of the Church towards Followers of Other Religions’, in Gioia, Interreligious Dialogue, p.575-577.
 John Paul II, ‘To the Representatives of Muslims of the Philippines, Davao, February 1981’, in Gioia, Interreligious Dialogue, p. 236-237.
 John Paul II, ‘Message to the Faithful of Islam at the End of the Month of Ramadan’, Rome, April 3, 1991’, in Gioia, Interreligious Dialogue, p.451.
 John Paul II, ‘To the Young Muslims of Morocco, Casablanca, August 19, 1985’, in Gioia, Interreligious Dialogue, p.303.
 Paul VI, ‘To the Islamic Communities of Uganda, Kampala, August 1, 1969’, in Gioia, Interreligious Dialogue, p.164.
 John Paul II, ‘To the Islamic Leaders of Senegal, Dakar, February 22, 1992’, in Gioia, Interreligious Dialogue, p. 479.
 The Joint Committee was established in May 1998 to promote dialogue between Christians and Muslims. The millennium-old Al-Azhar University in Cairo is the most prestigious centre of studies and research of the Muslim world. John Paul II visited the University in February 2000.
 President of the Permanent Committee of Al-Azhar for Dialogue with the Monotheistic Religions.
 Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.