.- Chicago’s top Catholic cleric and well-known Muslim leader called on Catholics and Muslims to work together to end racism and to strengthen families in the Chicago area. Cardinal Francis George and Imam Deen Mohammed made their joint appeal Monday before nearly 600 invited guests in the Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Auditorium, adjacent to Holy Name Cathedral.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Cardinal George challenged audience members to befriend their Catholic and Muslim neighbors, dismantle stereotypes and become catalysts for social change. He also said people must work together to change the patterns of housing in Chicago that entrench segregation and racism.
Mohammed echoed the cardinal’s appeal, calling all faiths to work toward the same goals.
This joint appeal came after nearly seven years of dialogue between Chicago Catholics and Muslims. The two leaders first met in 1998. Shortly thereafter, a dialogue between Mohammed's non-profit organization, The Mosque Cares, and the archdiocese began.
In the late 1990s, Mohammed also approached the Catholic Focolare movement, which seeks to promote unity among Catholics and other world religions. As his relationship with Focolare grew, Mohammed accepted an invitation, issued by Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore, to meet Pope John Paul II.
Mohammed recalled his meeting with the pontiff and the blessing the Pope gave his effort to improve relations between Catholics and Muslims.