Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, former Archbishop of Washington, gave an eloquent and thorough defense of American Muslims at hearings on this community’s civil rights. Catholic Senator Richard Durbin held the hearings as a response to Representative Peter King’s hearings on the radicalization of the Muslim American community.
McCarrick compared the Catholic experience of discrimination in America to that of Muslims now. He spoke of the importance of upholding freedom of religion and setting a standard for the rest of the world, including the Muslim world where Christians are persecuted. He affirmed groups such as the Islamic Society of North America as trusted dialogue partners. Listen to it all here (thanks to Faith In Public Life):
The Rev. Welton Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance may be right when he said that both hears are “somewhat engaging in posturing” (Washington Post). Many seem to come into such discussions with preconceived ideas. The fact that half the committee didn’t show up and only two stayed throughout the hearings might reflect a common issue: that we don’t have the patience to simply listen.
In our upcoming interview with him, Akbar Ahmed notes the surprise that his non-Muslim research assistants encountered when they told other non-Muslims that they had been to mosques. McCarrick’s testimony on Islam is rooted in personal experiences of dialogue and relationships with Muslims. Dialogue isn’t just for religious leaders, though–and politicians might not be the best people for it either. That might be up to you and me.