A cardinal, with decades working and praying with Muslims, talks about interreligious conversation.
When Cardinal Arthur Roche received the red hat on Aug. 27, he became the third living English cardinal.
Many Catholics could name a second one: Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the current Archbishop of Westminster and president of the English and Welsh bishops’ conference.
But they might struggle to name the third. That’s probably because he is living in retirement in a parish in the city of Liverpool. But he is an eminent churchman who is one of the Church’s leading experts on Islam, and he once led a Vatican dicastery.
Days before Pope Francis’ trip to the Muslim-majority country of Bahrain, Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald spoke with The Pillar about the most pressing challenges in Catholic-Muslim relations, the need for “Islamic ecumenism,” and the impact of Benedict XVI’s Regensburg lecture.
In a pithy email interview, the cardinal also discussed why he joined the White Fathers in his youth, his missionary work in Africa, and what it was like to serve at the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the Vatican body overseeing interfaith relations.
Cardinal Fitzgerald, what is Christianity?
At Antioch, the followers of the Way were called Christians for the first time. So Christianity is the following of Jesus Christ according to his teaching and the way of life that he indicated. Of course, we know the teaching of Jesus through Tradition (which includes the Gospels). According to Matthew 25, we shall be judged more on our lives than our beliefs.