Christian-Muslim Dialogue turns Strangers into Neighbors

St. Cloud, Minn., USA: In the aftermath of the mall stabbing of nine people by a Somali-Muslim on Sept. 17 in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Muslims called on their friends at the Greater St. Cloud Area Faith Leaders and others for support. Leaders from various faiths came together to pray and strategize a sensible reaction to the violence. “It has allowed us to build bridges in the past, and it seemed natural that we would have conversations and stand in solidarity when this happened,” said Kathy Langer, director of social concerns for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud and a member of the Greater St. Cloud Area Faith Leaders group.
The St. Cloud Times has reported harassment of Somali businesses and a city on edge. The once-homogenous college town is still adjusting to the influx of Somali immigrants and refugees that started approximately 10 years ago. The Christian-Muslim dialogue is helping to ease the racial and cultural friction, and Catholics have taken a strong leadership role in the effort. Recently, almost 300 people filled the parish hall at St. Joseph’s Church in St. Joseph, Minnesota, a small town 10 miles outside of St. Cloud, for a Christian-Muslim dialogue that also welcomed nine Somali-Muslim families into the community. The event was organized locally by an ad hoc group with help from the Interfaith Christian-Muslim Dialogue Group, an organization that started 10 years ago in St. Cloud and has expanded regionally.

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