In an unprecedented expression of interfaith collaboration, American Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish and Moslem religions leaders issued a joint statement calling for prayers for the success of Middle East peace talks at Camp David.
While Christians and Jews have a substantial history of cooperative endeavors, this is believed to be the first time in this country in which Moslems have joined them in a common statement.
"The Synagogue Council of America, National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States, National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C., join in expressing their most earnest hope for the success of the Camp David meeting," said the statement issued five days before the start of the summit talks.
"We call upon people assembled in houses of worship of all faiths to beseech God, the creator of all human kind, to guide those responsible for bringing peace to the Middle East to persevere and succeed in their sacred task," the statement said.
Signing the statement were William P. Thompson, president of the National Council of Churches; Bishop Thomas C. Kelley, general secretary of the Catholic hierarchy; Rabbi Saul Teplitx, president of the Synagogue Council, and Dr. Muhammed Abdul Rauf, director of the Islamic Center.
The religious leaders asserted their belief that "the religious traditions represented by our communities can play a significant part in the reconciliation of the peoples of the Middle East." They jointly pledged "our continuing efforts to that end."
Recent months have seen the beginnings of involvement of Moslems in the interreligious dialogues that have been going on in this country among Protestants, Catholic and Jews for more than half a century.
In two separate dramatic expressions of amity, earlier this year Washington Rabbi Joshua Haberman and Imam Wallace Muhammad, head of the American Community of Islam in the West (formerly known as the Black Muslims) exchanged pulpits.
Also this spring, Dr. Rauf was accredited as an official observer to meetings of the Protestant and Orthodox National Council of Churches. The NCC has had Jewish observers for more than a decade.