- The Washington Times - Friday, September 12, 2014

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C., struck a sore spot among Muslim analysts when he said the social teachings of the Catholic Church are similar to that taught by the Koran and the Islam faith — that both advocate peace.

“In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate,” Mr. McCarrick said during introductory remarks at a press conference set up by the Muslim Public Affairs Council in the District, The Daily Caller reported.

He then explained that the phrase — repeated more than 100 times in the Muslim holy book, the Koran — is similar to when Catholics pray “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” he said.

Mr. McCarrick then spoke of the peaceful teachings of both religions.

“Catholic social teaching is based on the dignity of the human person,” he said, The Daily Caller reported. “As you study the holy Koran, as you study Islam, basically, this is what Muhammad the prophet, peace be upon him, has been teaching.”

That view brought on immediate criticism from other religious and political figures.

“Has Cardinal McCarrick converted to Islam? ‘Peace be upon him’ is a phrase Muslims utter after they say the name of [their] prophet … so probably he is unaware of the unintended Islamic confession of faith he has just made,” said Robert Spencer, the author of several books on Islam and the overseer of JihadWatch.org.

And another critic, Michael Meunier, head of the U.S. Copts Association, said similarly.

“Either the cardinal has studied the whole thing and does not know what he’s talking about, or he is making a somewhat misleading statement,” he said, The Daily Caller reported. “The practice of the Muslim majority of people that adhere to the Koran … have proven that [any claim of equivalence] is not correct.”

Mr. Spencer also added that Islam actually “teaches a sharp dichotomy between Muslims … and the unbelievers,” the news outlet reported.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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