Kroc director Scott Appleby praises religious liberty doctrines in Catholicism and Islam

Author: Michael O. Garvey


There may be lessons for Islam in the evolution of Catholic teaching on religious liberty, according to R. Scott Appleby, director of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Speaking Jan. 17 inRomeat a conference sponsored by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, Appleby charted the ecclesial history that culminated in the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom ("Dignitatis Humanae), which asserted that religious liberty is a human right.

According to a Jan. 19 Catholic News Service story, Appleby described the councils declaration astriking reversalof earlier Catholic teaching on religious liberty, which had been calledmadnessas recently as 1832 in an encyclical written by Pope Gregory XVI.

The declaration was a welcome development whichlaid the groundwork for [the Catholic Churchs] new role as global proponent of religious liberty and universal human rights," Appleby said.He also praised what he saw as similar developments in Islamic teaching, describing them asgood news for Islam that there are competing traditions and voices and interpretations of what ‘jihad’ might mean and how it might be applied."

Other speakers at the conference were Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington and James Towey, director of the White House Office for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

Appleby may be reached for further comment at (574) 631-5665 or

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