Wednesday, 23 April 2008

A reply to Dean MacCarthy’s views on Islam

Peaceful co-existence: a mosque and a church side-by-side in the Nile Delta in Egypt (Photograph © Patrick Comerford)

The Letters to the Editor page of The Irish Times today (23 April 2008) includes this letter:

Madam,

Dean Robert MacCarthy’s unfortunate turn of phrase is in danger of being interpreted as describing other faiths, including Islam and Hinduism as “cults.” Whatever his personal views may be, the official position of the Church of Ireland has been set out in the Guidelines for Interfaith Events & Dialogue, published by the Bishops of the Church of Ireland and prepared by the Committee for Christian Unity. This publication is the first of its kind by a member-church of the Anglican Communion.

These guidelines were launched recently by the Minister for Integration, Mr Conor Lenihan, and are available online at: http://www.ireland.anglican.org/index.php?do=information&id=158 They say that ,in “relating to people of other faiths, it is important to create and develop relationships and understanding between people as individual and communities.”

They call on Church of Ireland clergy and people to “take positive and proactive steps in establishing good neighbourly relationships and to foster an accurate understanding of what other people believe.”

They emphasise the significance and importance of “respect, openness and honesty.”

If the dean has implied anything other than “respect, openness and honesty,” then perhaps I should assure Muslims, Hindus and other people of faith of the determination of the Interfaith Working Group of the Church of Ireland to foster the best of relationships and understanding. - Yours, etc,

(Rev Canon) Patrick Comerford,
Secretary,
Interfaith Working Group,
Church of Ireland,
Dublin 14