WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The nation's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization today offered "best wishes" to Pope Benedict XVI following his announced resignation and expressed a desire for continued positive relations between American Muslims and the Roman Catholic Church under his successor.
SEE: Pope Benedict XVI Says He Will Resign (NY Times)
In a statement reacting to Pope Benedict's decision to step down at the end of this month, Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said:
"We offer the American Muslim community's best wishes to Pope Benedict XVI as he leaves his position as head of the Roman Catholic Church.
"In recent years -- and despite some passing controversies -- relations between Muslims and Catholics have strengthened, particularly on issues related to social justice and family values.
"We look forward to continued and growing positive interfaith relations under the new pontiff as Muslims in the United States and worldwide join with people of all faiths and cultures who seek to make a better world."
[CAIR NOTE: Later today, Nihad Awad will discuss the pope's resignation on "To the Point," a one-hour daily national program co-produced by KCRW and Public Radio International. SEE: http://tinyurl.com/AwadToThePoint]
Awad noted that in 2009, CAIR welcomed Pope Benedict's expression of respect for Islam and Muslims as he began his first trip to the Middle East.
In 2008, representatives of CAIR met with Pope Benedict at an interfaith gathering in Washington, D.C.
In 2007, CAIR's Awad was a signatory, along with 137 other Muslim leaders and scholars, to an open letter titled "A Common Word Between Us and You," which was sent to Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and more than 20 other Christian leaders.
The open letter was designed to promote understanding between Muslims and Christians worldwide. It stated in part: "[L]et our differences not cause hatred and strife between us. Let us vie with each other only in righteousness and good works. Let us respect each other, be fair, just and kind to (one) another and live in sincere peace, harmony and mutual goodwill."
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations