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CIVILTA-MOHAMMED May-18-2007 (470 words) xxxi

Jesuit discusses Christian appreciation for Islam's prophet Mohammed

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- Christians must distance themselves from anyone or anything that insults Islam's prophet Mohammed and should come to a greater appreciation of his role in bringing millions of people to recognize the one God, said a German Jesuit scholar.

But Christians cannot share Muslims' recognition of Mohammed as the last and greatest prophet, said Father Christian Troll, a professor of Islam and of Muslim-Christian relations at the Sankt Georgen Graduate School of Philosophy and Theology in Frankfurt, Germany.

Writing in La Civilta Cattolica (Catholic Civilization), a Jesuit magazine reviewed by the Vatican prior to publication, Father Troll was responding to a question asked by many Muslims: "We Muslims recognize Jesus as a prophet and we venerate him. Why don't you Christians accept Mohammed as a prophet in the same way?"

In the mid-May article, the Jesuit said that in recognizing Jesus as one of God's prophets Muslims are following the indications of the Quran, the sacred book of Islam.

"If, on the other hand, a Christian would accept Mohammed's claim of being the true and ultimate prophet, it would go against the witness of the basic documents of the Christian faith," he said.

For Muslims, he said, Mohammed was the prophet who revealed God's uncreated word, the Quran.

For Christians, Jesus was not a prophet, but the word of God made flesh, he said.

While Christians cannot share Muslims' faith in Mohammed as the last and greatest prophet, "Christians must decisively distance themselves from every insult against Mohammed and, in addition, must try to recognize and appreciate his exceptional historic personality, his role as founder of Islam and the extraordinary place he occupies in the faith, piety and religious thought of Muslims," Father Troll said.

True respect for Muslims and for their faith, he said, requires Christians to "investigate that which in the life and teaching of Mohammed is acceptable or even exemplary and admirable for Christians, but also those aspects of his life and teaching that, from the point of view of Christian faith, would seem problematic and unacceptable."

Father Troll said Muslims and Christians share a belief in the greatness and transcendence of God and in God's concern for the humans he created, but Muslims cannot accept the Christian belief that God loved humanity so much that he gave his Son to die for all men and women.

"On a political-religious level, one can say that Mohammed is an extraordinary figure of a founder, who led many people to belief in God, but he did not recognize the love of God and the greatness of the human vocation that were revealed in the life of Jesus, in his suffering, in his death on the cross and in his resurrection," the priest said.


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