Common ground between Christians and Muslims may be as close as the corner gas station, said Pat Morrison, a journalist who spent years reporting on Catholic-Muslim relations.

The Shell station in her old neighborhood in Toledo is where Morrison met Abdul, an attendant who gave her an Easter gift of candies one year. “‘After all,’ he told me, ‘we are all working for paradise,'” Morrison recalled.

As keynote speaker Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the program, Muslims and Catholics: More in Common Than You Think, Morrison mixed anecdotes from her travels with carefully researched doctrine. About 150 religious and lay people attended the program hosted by Dayton’s Sisters of the Precious Blood at their Mother House, 4960 Salem Ave.

“What’s particularly powerful in that example is that Muslims do not believe in the redemption through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, nor do they believe he was resurrected from the dead,” she said. But they do recognize Jesus as a prophet and “believe he was raised by God and taken into heaven.”

Morrison, communications director for the local Sisters of the Precious Blood since 2006, has traveled extensively in the Middle East for the National Catholic Reporter and other news organizations.

She often has been struck by the reverence many Muslims show for Mary, the Mother of Jesus. She recalled a man in Tunisia who asked her to hold up her medallion of Our Lady of Carmel so he could kiss it.

Even the concept of “jihad” — which Morrison called “the most misunderstood word in the Islamic lexicon” — has parallels in Catholicism. In its personal sense, jihad is much like the Catholic tradition of mortification — reining in one’s passions so that “God can make us over in his image,” she said.

And similar to the Catholic tradition of “a just war,” jihad also can mean a struggle against oppression, but not at the expense of the innocent, Morrison said. Unfortunately, she said, extremists who don’t practice true Islam have used the term “jihad” to justify terrorism. (MORE)


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