Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Spiritual Leader of 1,000,000,000 Doesn't Meet With Los Angeles Advocate!

"US Muslim Group Declines to Meet Pope"
Associated Press (April 15, 2008)


"Unease with Pope Benedict XVI's approach to Islam has led a U.S. Muslim group to decline joining in an interfaith event with him later this week.
"Several other U.S. Muslim leaders expressed similar concerns about the pope, but pledged to participate in the Washington gathering, saying the two faiths should do everything possible to improve relations.
" 'Our going there is more out of respect for the Catholic Church itself,' said Muzammil H. Siddiqi, chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America, which interprets Islamic law. 'Popes come and go, but the church is there.' "

"But Salam al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an advocacy group based in Los Angeles, said the event seemed 'more ceremonial than substantive' and his organization would not participate. He said he was disappointed that no time was made in the pope's six-day trip for even a brief private meeting with U.S. Muslim leaders."

"Muslims in many nations reacted angrily when the pope quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor connecting Islam with violence in a 2006 speech at Germany's Regensburg University. Tensions eased after Benedict traveled to Turkey that same year, visiting Istanbul's famous Blue Mosque.
"The pope was applauded for organizing a Nov. 4-6 meeting in Rome with Muslim religious leaders and scholars, as part of a push for more dialogue between Catholics and Muslims.
"But many Muslims said the pontiff insulted them on Easter Sunday in St. Peter's Basilica, when he baptized Magdi Allam, an Egyptian-born commentator who has criticized what he called the "inherent" violence in Islam. Islamic leaders said the prominence of the ceremony, not the conversion itself, was troubling."

Curiously, the article doesn't mention the Pope's comments after the death of an Iraqi archbishop: "Pope calls death of Iraqi archbishop 'act of inhuman violence'" (Catholic News Service (March 14, 2008).

Excerpt: "Pope Benedict XVI called the kidnapping and death of an Iraqi archbishop 'an act of inhuman violence that offends the dignity of the human being and seriously harms the ... coexistence among the beloved Iraqi people.' "

I wouldn't have been very surprised, if someone had identified the Pope's characterizing the killing of a Catholic archbishop by Muslims as a "divisive" statement, by the loose standards I've gotten used to.

It's a relief that the Fiqh Council of North America spokesman said "Popes come and go, but the church is there." That's a level of understanding that I haven't always seen expressed by non-Islamic Americans.

As for the desire to have 'dialog,' Pope Benedict XVI has a rather full schedule during his visit to America. And, although it would be nice to have the vicar of Christ to about 1,000,000,000 people around the world sit down with an advocacy group in a country that isn't known for being particularly Catholic: I think that, if I were in the position of the Los Angeles Muslim advocate, I'd seriously consider going to the Holy See, instead.

But then, I'm one of those people who think that, if I wanted to 'dialog with' the American President, I'd go to Washington, DC, rather than expect the President to come to Sauk Centre, Minnesota.

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Brigid said...

But wouldn't it be cool if the President did come to Sauk Centre? Though I doubt our little municipal airstrip could take Airforce One. Maybe Airforce One Half?

Brian H. Gill said...


I think you're right.

The Sauk Center airport is larger than Air Force One, with a little room left over, landing the thing here wouldn't work.

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