Fulfilling a childhood goal, Fitzgerald studied theology and learned Arabic in Tunisia in his early adulthood. He then devoted his ministry to promoting an understanding between the Muslim and Christian faiths. In addition to archbishop, Fitzgerald also served in Cairo as the papal nuncio and was the Vatican’s delegate to the Arab League.
Fitzgerald spent most of his priesthood in Muslim nations representing the minority interests of Christians. But his knowledge of the Quran and Islam also allowed him to council Muslims in their faith.
In either case, Fitzgerald’s goal was always to help people understand their faith while appreciating the views of the other faith as well. The archbishop currently serves as a guest instructor at John Carroll University in Cleveland. In addition to writing and lecturing, he is spending this spring teaching a class on the Quran.
Part of Fitzgerald’s pedagogy is to call attention to the differences between Christianity and Islam, but always with the end goal of tolerance and understanding. One of his discussions led a student to compare Islam’s Quran to Catholicism’s Eucharist, both as held in high esteem to their respective religions, and both as sacraments signaling the presence of God…
As an example of how unrealistic these optimists can be, consider the following story I found while searching for a photo:
May 22, 2012: Egypt’s Christian minority suffered two more violent assaults during the past week, with bombings at Coptic Orthodox churches in two different towns.
A mob of Muslim militants attacked the church of St. Mary in Alexandria, setting fires and shattering windows with Molotov cocktails. In the village of Menbal another Muslim gang broke into a Coptic church, threw stones, and looted nearby shops owned by Christians. In both cases, the confrontations were traced to personal disputes between Muslim and Christian families, but the attacks on churches showed the precarious position of the Coptic minority. Christians protested that local police took no action to protect them during the assaults.
In a separate story regarding Egyptian Christians, the Vatican’s former representative in the country, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, told a Vatican Radio audience that despite the dangers of Islamic violence, Christians have seen positive steps since the “Arab Spring” uprisings.
“There has been a gain in freedom of expression at least, and the start of a more democratic process,” the archbishop said. “What is missing is the security.”
Always look on the bright side is apparently his motto. A perfect way to blind oneself to danger. Sorry, pal, but Christianity is not a suicide pact.