By Tim Harfmann
Inside Brooklyn’s Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, Muslim worshipers understood the importance of Pope Francis’ mission to bring Christians and Muslims closer together. “It’s always good for people to get together and just talk, get to know each other, get to understand each other,” Rajeh Jawad, a Muslim from Bay Ridge.
The Holy Father has a history of getting to know and understand Muslims throughout his six-year pontificate, including a visit to the home of a Muslim family when Francis was in Milan in2017. He also planted a peace tree at the Vatican in 2014 with a host of Muslim leaders, as well as the Israeli and Palestinian presidents.
Monsignor Guy Massie, vicar for ecumenical and interreligious affairs for the Brooklyn diocese, said these activities are essential. “It’s very important for world religious leaders to respect each other. If anything, if they believe in God, then they believe in God’s creation, then they believe in the dignity of humanity.”
Monsignor Massie argued that as global moral leaders, the Church should be at the forefront of fostering improved religious relations. “Having that position, we can take that responsibility to say, ‘let’s talk for our good and the good of everyone else.” And that dialogue can then lead to even more serious conversations. “Now, I’ve established a relationship with you. Now, we can sit down and talk about the more thorny issues,” said Monsignor Massie.
For Brooklyn Muslims, they said that through talking with one another, the stronger the relationship would become. “Knowledge is power. As long people understand each other, it’s a good thing. Then they don’t fear each other,” said Jawad. “Some people, they think that we bad and we are terrorists. We’re not,” said Mohamed Ehmed, another Brooklyn worshiper.
Many of the Muslims at the mosque insisted the Holy Father’s mission is a vital one and a great way to enhance interreligious respect and understanding