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We need to grow in understanding of Muslims, English bishop says

Worshippers at Baitul Futuh Mosque in Morden, Surrey (PA)

Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton has written a pastoral letter urging Catholics in his diocese to reach out to Muslims.

In the letter he quoted from the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on non-Christian religions, Nostra Aetate, which said: “The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions.”

Bishop Conry wrote: “These words and sentiments are very important for our time, when latent suspicions and hostility can easily be brought to the surface again by tragic events like the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich.”

He continued: “I am writing this on the first day of the Muslim holy season of Ramadan. I ask that you accept this urge to dialogue, so that at least we might understand one another more.

“Very often our image of Islam is simply the one presented by the media, and how often do we complain that the media view distorts the reality of the Catholic Church? We must not in our minds associate the word ‘Muslim’ with any of the negative and pejorative terms often linked to it in the media.”

He said that inter-religious dialogue was “not just a dialogue of charity”, but also a “dialogue of hope.”

“Hope and trust in God who wills all people to be saved and who, in Christ and the Holy Spirit, is already at work in all that is true and holy in other religions,” said Bishop Conry.