During iftar dinner, Cardinal Cupich calls for ceasefire in Gaza

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Monday, March 18, 2024

During iftar dinner, Cardinal Cupich calls for ceasefire in Gaza

Cardinal Cupich offers remarks as the Archdiocese of Chicago joined the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago to mark a day’s fast at the 24th Annual Muslim-Catholic Iftar dinner and program on March 13, 2024, at the Islamic Foundation North in Libertyville. Sponsored by the CIOGC, the annual interfaith iftar commemorates breaking the Ramadan fast, observing maghrib prayer and sharing a festive dinner and program. Cardinal Cupich and Dr. Abdulgany Hamadeh, chairman of CIOGC, offered remarks. Bishop Mark Bartosic and Imam Azfar Uddin were both keynote speakers at the event. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich is greeted by members of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago upon his arrival. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Ahmed Nadar, president of the Islamic Foundation North, welcomes participants to the event. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Abdullah Mitchell, executive director of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, speaks during the event. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Bishop Mark Bartosic waits to be introduced by Taya Tayyabi. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Bishop Mark Bartosic gives one of the keynotes. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Afaan Hussain offers a prayer before Muslims break their fast during Ramadan. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Ishak Mohiuddin reflects during one of the talks. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich offers remarks. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Dr. Abdulgany Hamadeh, a physician and chairman of CIOGC, offers remarks. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Cardinal Cupich called for a ceasefire in Gaza, along with the release of all hostages and an increase in humanitarian aid, during his remarks at the 24th Annual Muslim-Catholic Iftar dinner March 13 at the Islamic Foundation North in Libertyville.

“I join my voice to so many others calling for the release of all hostages and the increase of humanitarian aid to those in such dire need. I join the Holy Father in praying for a ceasefire in Gaza and for a two-state solution in the pursuit of a lasting peace to take root in Israel, Gaza and the Palestinian territories,” the cardinal said. “Our Christian faith requires us to see everyone mired in this conflict as a beloved brother or sister, made in the image and likeness of God.”

Citing the 2019 “Document on Human Fraternity,” co-signed by Pope Francis and Ahmad Al-Tayib, Grand Imam of Al Azhar the cardinal said: 

“Our faith in God calls us to take care of one another especially those in the most dire of situations. For this reason, we are greatly troubled by the many wars in our world today, especially the ongoing war in Gaza,” he said. “I have come to know, as best I can, the deep pain and trauma that many of you feel because of this war. It is likely that some here tonight have lost family and friends in this conflict. I am here with you tonight to support you in your grief and assure you that you are heard and seen amidst your mourning.”

Each year during the dinner, one Catholic and one Muslim speaker reflect on a theme, this year’s being “Healing Through Kindness.”

Auxiliary Bishop Mark Bartosic spoke about the ways kindness can come in the form of good manners. Whenever he would visit the homes of friends, his mother would remind him to “mind my manners,” he said. Working as a priest in the Mexican community increased his understanding of courtesy, after a Mexican religious sister told him that she deplored his “lack of education.”

“I was devastated,” Bishop Bartosic said. “It took me a while to learn that she only meant that my manners were lacking. I didn’t know at that time that within the Mexican community, good manners demand that I shake every hand when coming into a room. Waving and saying, ‘Hola,’ doesn’t cut it.”

The value of good manners has been further eroded by the culture’s emphasis on achievement and productivity, he said.

“Excessive focus on the individual has created an epidemic of narcissism, blinding us or making us indifferent to the likeness that unites us,” he said. “There is today a correspondingly toxic urge to force our individual difference is in the name of being ‘authentic,’ that is, to assert oneself against the other, creating a personal narrative which is entirely the product of the ego.”

Citing South Korean philosopher Byung-Chul Han, Bishop Bartosic said that rituals, like manners, make it possible to see the beauty in others.

“Manners, Han says, create the conditions under which true kindness can govern our interactions independently of whether or not our manner genuinely expresses how we feel about each other. And this can be healing for estranged persons and atomized societies,” he said.

In his remarks, Imam Azfar Uddin from the Islamic Foundation North, which sponsored the event, spoke about the war between Hamas and Israel while displaying images of people suffering in Gaza.

“There are people in the world right now who are being starved to death,” Uddin said. “Starvation and deprivation are being used as weapons of war.”

Any Muslim will say this Ramadan feels different because of the war, he said.

“I was told to speak about healing through kindness. How am I going to heal when I see these pictures every day?” Uddin asked. “Every day our hearts get shattered in a different way.”

Dr. Abdulgany Hamadeh, a physician and chairman of CIOGC, spoke at the end of the event saying that Lent and Ramadan call on people of faith to reflect on and live their spiritual values through acts of kindness.

“Tonight, we are challenging ourselves to find ways to build a greater understanding and an all-lasting friendship and a deeper sense of healing between us,” Hamadeh said. “Tonight, we hope to find ways to collaboratively build a shared vision of a society that reflects our common values.”

Hamadeh also discussed those suffering and dying in Gaza.

“The harm that the civilians in Gaza face is a stark reminder of the importance of coming together as people of faith to advocate for justice, peace and the well-being of not only humans but humanity,” Hamadeh said. “We must stand in solidarity with those who are oppressed or marginalized regardless of their religious or ethnic backgrounds.”


  • cardinal cupich
  • iftar
  • gaza

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