I am a Roman Catholic mother. What should I tell my children about Muslims and their faith? The history of Islam is terrible, and what is happening now in Europe is no better.
You should tell them what the Catholic Church believes: Muslims are people created and loved by God. Like all other people, some of their members reflect that love better than others. Although some Muslims are terrorists, the vast majority of Muslims are not.
Section three of Vatican II’s “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions” says that the Church has a high regard for Muslims. “They worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has also spoken to humanity. . . . They highly esteem an upright life and worship God, especially by way of prayer, alms-deeds, and fasting.”
The bishops then acknowledged past conflicts between Catholics and Muslims but urged all Catholics to achieve mutual understanding. “For the benefit of all, let them together preserve and promote peace, liberty, social justice, and moral values.”
In the “Addresses” section of Vatican.va, you can find many speeches of Pope Francis to Muslim groups, reflecting and expanding what Vatican II taught in 1965. Blessed Paul VI, St. John Paul II, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI did the same. More recent events (including violence by Christians against Muslims in Europe and the United States) do not nullify Vatican II’s teaching, but rather make it even more urgent.