WASHINGTON – Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington, led a group of religious leaders Nov. 30 in announcing a national interfaith grass-roots campaign to oppose terrorists and protect Americans from their violence.
The campaign is being launched by Cardinal McCarrick; Rabbi Jack A. Luxemburg, chief rabbi of Temple Beth Ami in the Washington suburb of Rockville, Md.; and the Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III, dean of the Washington National Cathedral of the Episcopal Church.
Cardinal McCarrick, who spoke at the National Press Club, said the campaign is comprised of people from different religious traditions, coming together with mutual respect and understanding, to protect Americans from terrorists and their violence.
“This is … a monumental step,” Cardinal McCarrick said. “This is the family gathering to say thanks be to God, the one God that we all worship. … We’re all his children.”
Citing work that had been done before to achieve peace in the Holy Land with representatives from different faiths, the cardinal said: “What we found is that we can all work together. … What unites us is so much greater than what divides us.”
He also welcomed, on behalf of other Christian and Jewish leaders, a “fatwa,” or religious edict, issued by the Fiqh Council of North America, that in part stated its “unequivocal and unqualified condemnation of the destruction and violence committed against innocent men and women.”
The council is a group of Islamic scholars who offer advice in areas of Islamic life in North America.
“There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism,” the edict says. “Targeting civilians’ life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is prohibited in Islam … and those who commit these barbaric acts are criminals, not ‘martyrs.’“
The edict’s three points are that all acts of terrorism are forbidden in Islam; Muslims cannot cooperate or associate with any individual or group that is involved in any act of terrorism or violence; and Muslims have a duty to report to authorities any threats that would endanger a human being.
“We all want peace,” Cardinal McCarrick said.
He said people from all faiths are “one family,” and “we really need to love each other, we really need to understand each other, and we really need to work together.”
In response to the “fatwa,” Cardinal McCarrick, Rev. Lloyd, and Rabbi Luxemburg issued “A Thanksgiving Season Proclamation.”
“We are Americans of Christian and Jewish heritage who have joined together with Muslim Americans in celebration and thanksgiving for the United States of America,” the proclamation reads.
“Americans cannot respond effectively to the criminal behavior we call ‘terrorism’ if we are divided. And divisions are nurtured by misunderstanding and fear,” it continues.
“Further, we recognize that we insult Muslim Americans when we do not respect their valued beliefs of their Islamic faith – the Quran and the prophet Mohammed. In this season of Thanksgiving, we proclaim our unity through diversity,” it says.
“I truly think this (is) an important moment. … May this not die here. … May this spirit of mutual cooperation be what motivates people to work together for a better world,” Cardinal McCarrick said.
During a question-and-answer session, the cardinal was asked what Catholics should do to work for peace.
“Knowledge precedes all action. Get people … to know what it is to be a Muslim, (a) Buddhist,” he said. There is “beauty in every religion,” he added, and people need to “work with each other. … Look at (the) evils of society (and) work together to solve problems.”
In response to another question, Cardinal McCarrick said, “The greatest crime against religion is to use religion to hurt other people.”
Asked what he hopes the pope’s visit to Washington next April will accomplish, the cardinal said, “People will get to see … what a loving, gracious, humble and brilliant man this is.”
More information about the “Uniting to Protect” campaign is available online at: www.bridgestocommonground.org.