Great Doors of the Abbey of St Maurice, Switzerland (detail) MMB.
O my way to work in a nearby town I used to pass the Catholic church. Cheek by jowl next door was the Islamic community centre. I often wondered whether the two groups ever met, though I never took the trouble to find out.
Officially the Catholic Church seeks a common understanding with Islam, ‘setting aside the mutually inflicted wounds of the past.’ The picture on the ground is patchy; while London is only the latest British city to have a Muslim mayor, understandable fear and anger has arisen following outrages committed by self-proclaimed Islamists in the Middle East, Africa, and closer to home in Europe and North America.
Our local Muslim shop-keeper told me that he was overwhelmed by the support he received after being assaulted. He said witnesses of the event and character references convinced prosecutors that his, rather than his assailants’, story was the truth. But he was assaulted in the first place …
Things were and remain very different in Algeria, with a quite different history to Britain’s. The Church is a very much smaller part of the country with the French settlers long gone. It was one of them, the Bishop of Oran, Pierre Claverie, who challenged the universal Church to ‘get to know your Muslim neighbour, make him your friend: if friends disagree at some stage, it does not matter.’
 Nostra Ætate 3