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Friday, October 08, 2010


There's one glaring problem with this otherwise-laudable statement from a Catholic perspective.

What is it?

How about this:

The threatened burning of copies of the Holy Qu’ran this Saturday is a particularly egregious offense that demands the strongest possible condemnation by all who value civility in public life and seek to honor the sacred memory of those who lost their lives on September 11.

The problem is with the word "Holy." If you're a Catholic, the Koran doesn't get that adjective. Period. I understand the need to be good neighbors, and I'm actually a fan of civility, if haphazard in my observance. But grownups understand that faithful members of one religion can't call someone else's holy book "Holy."

Muslims know this, as this Muslim interfaith outreach demonstrates, reserving the adjective only for references to the Koran, even though it respectfully quotes the Holy Bible. Which is perfectly fine--it was written by Muslims, and they can label as they like. No offense intended or taken.

But. If it's an interfaith statement, then make it neutral. Or be a grownup and politely object. Alas, the Archbishop Emeritus of Washington is best known for his efforts to be the ecclesiastical version of Spinal Tap bassist Derek Smalls.

"We're very lucky in the band in that we have two visionaries, David and Nigel, they're like poets, like Shelley and Byron. They're two distinct types of visionaries, it's like fire and ice, basically. I feel my role in the band is to be somewhere in the middle of that, kind of like lukewarm water."

Sounds like another one of those interfaith "dialogues" described by a rather hardbitten Vaticanista to the noted polemicist Ibn Warraq:

Nearly ten years ago, I was the guest of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI) of Rome. PISAI is dedicated to interfaith dialogue between Christians and Muslims. But as the director at the time said to me, “There is no real dialogue, since Muslims never reciprocate the goodwill gestures made by the Christians. The result is we sit down together, and the Christians say what a wonderful religion Islam is, and the Muslims say what a wonderful religion Islam is.”

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