Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly, Pope John Paul IIs vision of freedom struck a sympathetic chord among Muslims in America.
Pope John Paul said freedom is "fulfilled in man's quest for truth. Detached from the truth about the human person, freedom deteriorates into license into the lives of individuals." The Pope spoke out against "the arrogance of power," and "Utilitarianism, the doctrine which defines morality not in terms of what is good but of what is advantageous. The subjugation, for example, of a smaller or weaker nation is claimed to be a good thing solely because it corresponds to the national interest."
The Pope's message at the U.N. was reinforced at Baltimore, MD, the site of the first Catholic church in America. The Pope spoke of justice and peace; tenets central to Islam. The Baltimore event was covered by the Faith & Values Channel, broadcast nationwide, which invited representatives of the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim community to comment upon the Papal parade live from their studios in New York. The invitees included Jim Hartz, former anchor of the NBC Today Show; Mr. A. J. Cernera president of Sacred Heart University, Rabbi Bemporad, director Jewish Christian Relations, and Father O'Keefe; and Mowahid Shah, editor Eastern Times, attorney-at-law, and a Fellow of The Wisdom Fund.
Shah, speaking on the Faith & Values Channel, emphasized Islam's concepts of justice which promote "empathy for the needy, and identification with the have-nots." Shah praised the Pope's firm stance on principles rather than bending to current popular positions. "The Pope's message of freedom and justice for all," said Shah, "is central to Islam which recognizes Jews and Christians as people of The Book, and is rooted in the monotheistic message of Abraham, later prophets, and completed by the Prophet Muhammad. The symmetry between the Catholic and Muslim faiths," said Shah, "was also reflected in the positions taken by the Vatican and Muslim organizations during the World Population Conference earlier this year in Cairo, Egypt."