I wonder if we have considered the wider implications of the controversy about a “mosque” near the World Trade Center Site? I put “mosque” in quotes since I am not sure that it actually is a mosque, formally speaking. Rather it seems to be more of an Islamic Center. I will admit to not knowing fully the distinction between a mosque and an Islamic Center though my premise is that such a center may have a wider purpose than just as a place of worship and would probably include places to gather to study or for social interaction such as receptions and the like. It would seem that there are already two mosques within a dozen blocks of the proposed site.

I suppose if you ask me, I don’t think building the center so near ground zero is a good idea. It has obviously proved incendiary and, if the original purpose was to promote mutual understanding the whole thing has back-fired. There are surely many reasons for this and plenty of blame to go around. There may have been some fear-mongering by those opposed. There were some problematic statements by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf . And when the politicians entered the picture, it was like gasoline being poured on the already smoldering topic.

But what I want to consider are the possible implications of this event beyond the Muslim Community to our own Catholic Church. The matter that most concerns me is that many who oppose this Mosque (though not all) seem to be asking that the Government prevent its construction. Perhaps this would be done by revoking construction permits or through zoning changes.

I’ll be honest, I don’t want the Government to have a thing to do with refusing permission for the mosque (or center). Because, truth be told, if they can intervene in a matter about a mosque they can just as easily make life difficult when it comes to building churches too.

There are many in this land who distrust Muslims and dislike many aspects of the Muslim Faith. As a Catholic I surely have many strong disagreements with what the Muslim Faith teaches.  Distrust is a more complicated question. Most Americans are willing to distinguish between extremist Islam and mainstream Islam. But here too the failure to hear of strong denunciation of violence from Muslim leaders makes Americans wonder. Further, the lack of religious tolerance in many Muslim Countries also causes consternation. To some extent this distrust makes it easier for some to demand the government step in and prevent the Mosque.

But let’s be honest and sober. We as Catholics are heading south in the popularity ratings too. There are increasing  numbers in this country who consider us hateful, backward, sexist, homophobic, judgmental, and so forth. They think this of us because we have not signed on 100% with the cultural, sexual and social revolution. Many also distrust us on account of our handling of the Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis. It is not that far of a stretch to consider that within the next decades we too will discover many obstacles toward building Churches in prominent or visible places. At first opposition to us will be rooted in complaints that we will cause traffic etc. But the next step will be to refuse us zoning easements because we are sexist (no women priests, opposition to abortion) or anti-homosexual (No Gay marriage), insensitive (e.g. no Euthanasia),  and thus our “values” do not comport well with the community in question or our presence causes some to experience outrage or hurt. Hence our prominent presence in a community could be denied simply because others experience hurt or rage. (I do not say that such feelings about us are fair or right, I simply note their current existence).

Now this may seem far-fetched, but is this not some of the logic being applied at the ground zero site? And those who think that the Government should intervene at the ground zero site should carefully think this through. It is a very poor basis on which to ask the government  to act. And we may be next in the cross hairs of this sort of logic.

We ought to be very sober about encouraging the Government to continue to expand its involvement in how private citizens use their land and resources. In the last 40 years the government has become increasingly intrusive when it comes to building anything. There are increasingly picky zoning requirements, declaration of historical districts, nature preserves, etc. And eminent domain (allowing  the government simply to take your land for its own purposes in exchange for a price it deems fair) which was once rather rare and for serious reasons  has now become shockingly common. There are certain western states that are almost wholly owned by the Federal Government and where private ownership of land has become rare. As one who has built a large building on Church property, I can personally attest to how frustrating it is to build. There are endless permits, delays, regulations, zoning waivers, delays, forms, and did I say, delays?  

Now I realize that not every one who opposes the Mosque is asking the government to intervene. But for those who are, think very carefully. And even for those who are not asking the government intervention, be careful of the logic used. That a mosque causes grief and anger, fear or suspicion at ground zero may at some level be understandable but it is a poor basis on which to tell someone they cannot build a building. For I fear that same logic will be used against the Catholic Church sooner than we think in certain areas of this country. It is not a great leap of (tortured) logic to say that a mosque cannot be built because it evokes negative feelings to saying that a Catholic Church cannot be built for the same reasons. We ought to be very careful about the logic we use.

What do you think? I know that this article needs some distinctions, qualifications and factual additions. Remember this is a discussion I have started. I do not intend this blog  it as a pronouncement. I am grateful if, in addition to any comments about the issue in general, you might address the specific question of the logic of demanding the non-existence of a building on the basis that it will cause hurt or anger and how it might ultimately affect us as Catholics.

Here’s an interesting interview about the Mosque (Islamic Center) before it really heated up:

105 Responses

  1. Nick says:

    President Obama said he was for the rights of Muslims to build mosques, than later said it might not be a good idea to build one near the Twin Towers site. I think that’s a balanced view.

    The Church teaches freedom of religion and in America there is the old saying, “If my neighbor isn’t free, neither am I free.”

  2. Anon says:

    I think your assessment is spot on. A lot of times in constitutional law there is a talk about a “slippery slope” and this is certainly a case for that reasoning: you start restricting the construction of mosques, churches could be next.

    I am also troubled by how this has been a national discussion (as opposed to a local issue for the residents of New York City who were most affected by 9/11) where too many of the talking heads have weighed in just to be incendiary. They criticize Muslims for raging a holy war, but aren’t they doing the same thing?

  3. Mark O'Malley says:

    While I fully agree with you that government intervention is a double-edged sword, I think you should consider the example of the attempt to rebuild St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church…from my understanding, the only church destroyed in the 9/11 attack.

    “Greek Orthodox leaders trying to rebuild the only church destroyed in the Sept. 11 terror attacks expressed shock this week after learning, via Fox News, that government officials had killed a deal to relocate the church. ”

    Link: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/08/18/leaders-disappointed-government-declares-deal-rebuild-ground-zero-church-dead/

    I find it particularly ironic that the government placed significant roadblocks to *rebuilding* the only church (in the truest sense of the word, since they have valid sacraments) destroyed by the 9/11 attacks, while doing everything they can to facilitate the construction of a *new* Islamic center…named after the most westerly caliphate in Islamic history.

    Government interference is truly a double-edged sword indeed.

    • I saw an interview with the Greek Orthodox Bishop and he is more optimistic that the matter will be resolved. The video of interview is here: http://www.redlasso.com/ClipPlayer.aspx?id=b8994b60-679c-4547-a73a-a5d0a9c05e03

      • Kathleen says:

        Unfortunately, the Greek Orthodox Church and the parishioners of little St. Nicholas Church, have been unable to raise sufficient money and publicity to overcome the bias against their rebuilding. The church’s destruction was heart-breaking.

        St. Peter’s Catholic Church was badly damaged, and sold a historic building (the old newsboys’ home) to help pay for repairs. St. Paul’s Episcopal Chapel, blessedly, had less damage. But there was NO sympathy for these 3 churches, with all their valid problems.

  4. Anne Marie says:

    It is very ironic, that while there is a rush for a mosque to be build very near Ground Zero, a Greek Orthodox church, which was there in the very area where the WTC towers were, even way before they (the towers) were even built was denied clearance by the same government to rebuild.

    While freedom is very important, it must not be abused either.

  5. Sandra Jones says:

    When this topic comes up about how the Muslims can pray and build solidarity with those hurt by the attack on the Twin Towers, I remember the Carmelite Convent that existed on the grounds of Auschwitz for decades to pray and offer atonement for the horrors commited there. Their presence was objected to by some Jewish groups (who believed that no one other than Jews had a right to pray there) and the nuns were shut down and made to leave that site by Pope John Paul II.

  6. Russ Miller says:

    Msgr.,

    With respect, we as Christians know we will be persecuted. You fail to realize the reality of what the Koran, Hadiths and Tabari command all Muslims to to. Read and learn. Muhammad’s path was clear to Holy men.

    Sincerely,

    Russ Miller

    • So what do you think of the mosque there and of the logic I mentioned

      • Russ Miller says:

        Msgr. Pope,

        I’m impressed with your responses to the comments section.

        Again with respect, I will address your logic specifically after a late lunch with my family as I’m off today. However, in general, isn’t your logic irrelevant if my point about Islam is correct? Please appease me with your opinion on the Koran, Tabari and other authoritative Islamic readings.

        I used to believe the “radical Islam” vs. Islam perspective. However, after doing research on my own, the Truth regarding the Islamic religion is there to see and read. Mohammad, was anything but Godly, he was as his writings indicate, a pillager, murderer, warlord, and other evil things, which I’ll not write about.

        Sincerely,
        Russ Miller

  7. Roger says:

    I don’t trust the Islamic religion. I don’t trust our government. What do they have in common? Submit to their ways or die by the sword. Each uses a different type of sword but the outcome is the same.

  8. Michael Park says:

    Reverend Monsignor,

    I am opposed to the building of this mosque aka Islamic Center for this reason: I was in Israel in April. On our tour of Nazareth (which is 70% Muslim), we learned the Muslims want to build a mosque practically on top of the Church of the Annunciation, if not in its place. Indeed, there are signs outside the church including this gem right at the entrance which states: “And whomever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers (Holy Quran)”. In Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock was constructed on the site of Solomon’s 1st temple, destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, and the 2nd temple, destroyed by the Romans. It was also the site of the Church of St. Cyrus and St. John. On a tour there, we learned that after the British partition of Jerusalem in 1948, the Muslims destroyed a synagogue in the Muslim sector and built a mosque in its place. After the Six Day War in 1967, the Israelis knocked down the walls of separation, and Jews prayed at the Wailing Wall for the first time in 19 years. They then rebuilt their synagogue next to the mosque erected on the site of the one destroyed by the Muslims.
    To build a mosque, Islamic Center, or whatever you want to call it, so near the WTC demonstrates a continuing practice on the part of Islam to diminish other faiths and objects of reverence by establishing their own presence in the same area. I know it is of no other reason or importance to do this, otherwise why would the Islamic Society of North America locate their headquarters in my little hometown of Plainfield, Indiana, of all places?

  9. Tim H says:

    >>>The Church teaches freedom of religion.

    This is a bit of a generalization that I’m very uncomfortable with.

    The Church teaches freedom of religion only insofar as one is free to reject the one Church, established by Christ, as the authoritative source of teaching of God’s will here on earth with regard to matters of faith and morals. The Church does not teach that all religions are equal, or that all relgions are even good. The Church teaches that all religions contains some truth, but that moving away fom the Catholic Church is to move away from God and his truth, not toward him.

    To say that the Church teaches freedom of religion is like saying that the police teach that we are free to break the law or that doctors teach that we are free to eat potatoe chips for breakfast every day. We are certainly free to do so but there are consequences to our actions and the Church vigourously discourages us from leaving the Catholic Church for another because it is bad for us. .

    -Tim-

  10. Steve N says:

    Finally, a balanced, reasonable view of this debacle! Well put, Msgr. Pope.

    Another point to consider: there are already mosques 4 and 12 blocks from Ground Zero. Also, there is a strip club across the street from Ground Zero…

    • Strip club? I guess that’s another kind of religion!

      • Kathleen says:

        There are pizza parlors and delis too; it’s a silly argument.

        Lower Manhattan includes churches, mosques, synagogues, restaurants, department and discount stores, apartment buildings, museums, a yacht club, public schools, two universities and a community college.

        The strip near the Hudson River was known as “The Holy Ground” in sailors’ songs, because the brothels were on land owned by the Church of England under Queen Anne’s grant!

        It’s a vibrant area, not a sacred one.

        But just remember the uproar over “The African-American Burial Ground,” which was actually the northern end of the old Potter’s Field burial ground that ran north from what’s now City Hall Park. The Park originally contained that, the criminal and debtors’ prisons, almshouse, and execution ground. Imam Rauf has to address the emotional issue, as well as the community questions.

      • richtea says:

        Strippers did not run two aircraft full of passengers into two towers in Lower Manhattan, Monsignor. But, indeed, there is another kind of religion that did it, and you might guess which one. It is a religion of hate.

  11. Howard says:

    Given your opinion about the Islamic center, what do you propose we do?

    1. We could be “Monday-morning quarterbacks”. Just as in football, the “Monday-morning quarterback” takes no hits but also does not change the game.

    2. We could become politically involved. However, it should be clear by now that whatever happens to the Islamic center will have little if any impact on how the public and the government treat the Catholic Church. The Church can expect to be despised and even persecuted no matter what happens here.

    3. We could pray. This gets to the heart of the matter, though: For what should we pray? That the Islamic center is constructed? Sorry, Monsignor, I will never pray for the spread of error. That we avoid the scorn of the world? I don’t think that’s an option. That we endure scorn and persecution? Absolutely; but that has taken us far from the issue of this Islamic center.

    • I think you may be confusing me for a supporter of the building of the mosque. I indicated that I thought it was a bad idea. I am not sure what we can do about it though and that if we oppose it we ought to be careful with the logic we use.

  12. Charles Ferry says:

    I don’t there’s much of a difference whether it’s a mosque or community center. That debate may be relevant to modern political debates in which parties and ideologies attempt to reshape and redefine words to suit their goals.

    A Muslim community center led by an Imam and containing a prayer room is clearly a religious ministry. Religious ministries, no matter what the District of Columbia City Council says, are afforded the same first amendment rights as a purely house of worship. Each place hosts a practice of conscious with the inspiration of conscious for the development of conscious for its community. The only difference is that secularists don’t have their own houses of worship, they have their own community centers and shelters they want a monopoly control over.

    Quite frankly I’m saddened that this is even being debated in the manner it is. Not because having a constitutional right means everything and anything. But because the debate has been taken over from where it belongs: the conscious of the religious communities. When acting true to ones faith, the religious do not attempt to claim victory or stake a claim for their group over others. Yes, there are endless cases of religious persons doing just that – Catholic Christians especially. And certainly a center run named Cordoba opening on 9/11 near WTC may be another. Whether one is acting in true service to God, and not with the intent to offend or hate, is not a open public political debate, public opinion polls and political campaign donations. It’s a matter of conscious that one is acting true to His will, not merely their own.

  13. Carl says:

    The govenment is already denying the Catholic Church permission to build, so we don’t have to worry about the possibility of it happening. St Michael’s Parish in Exeter, NH wanted to build on a site that was perfect for them. They were fought tooth and nail by neighbors who did not want the church in their neighborhood, and it was a loosely populated neighborhood. The parish spent several years and over $1 million going through the zoning process, and it was ultimately denied.

  14. Terence Filmore says:

    Can the mosque be built? Yes, the constitution permits it.
    Should it be built? Yes, there is no sound reason not to.

    So the mosque’s proximity to Ground Zero makes some people uncomfortable, even angry. This is not a sufficient reason to deny building it. Rather, it is the reason TO build it. It shows the world and ourselves that we value religious freedom (and constitutional rights) even when it makes us uncomfortable.

  15. Maggie45 says:

    Charles Krauthammer hit the nail right on the head:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/12/AR2010081204996_pf.html

    And Bill Whittle takes it a further:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qg_iDPRud_c

    I agree totally with both of them.

    • I think Charles Krauthammer’s piece is well written and well describes why I am personally uncomfortable with building the mosque there. His piece however doesn’t quite get to my main concern: will this sort of logic (your presence makes me uncomfortable, you can’t build) turn to bite us?

      • John Campbell says:

        “…will this sort of logic (your presence makes me uncomfortable, you can’t build) turn to bite us?”

        I think it could, but only if predicated on an event where 3000 innocents were slaughtered by followers of our Catholic Christian faith.

  16. Ed More says:

    Yes, restricting the contruction of the Ground Zero mosque by government intervention would have consequences that in the future could back fire on Christians in this country. I think this situation is a symptom of a larger problem: This country and it’s form of democracy is decaying fast… Rule by majority is good only as far as the majority are benevolent. Also I think we have lost touch with our national Christian identity, which was bound to happen anyway, because that is the nature of protestant culture – unending splitting and dividing etc.

    The problem with the mosque is this: It will be seen especially now, as a sign of conquest by many. The very essense of this country is to give freedom to the very people who would conquer it.

    If he were alive today I wonder what Hilaire Belloc would have to say about it.

    • richtea says:

      Probably the same that he did, prescient as he was, in his Great Heresies: “… the decay of a religion involves the decay of the culture corresponding to it – we see that most clearly in the breakdown of Christendom today.” Or, “We shall almost certainly have to reckon with Islam in the near future. Perhaps if we lose our Faith it will arise.” Or, “… the possibility of that terror under which we lived for centuries reappearing, and of our civilization again fighting for its life against what was its chief enemy for a thousand years, seems fantastic.” But here we are – life follows art, sort of. Mind, heresy is the key word, and perhaps a reminder to the Monsignor that heresies are to be fought by the Church.

    • Thanks for the great quotes!

  17. Kathleen says:

    Monsignor: The center as proposed contains a mosque, as well as swimming pool, gym, meeting rooms, etc. It is a traditional Islamic center; they usually have a mosque, classrooms, hamams, soup-kitchens, etc., in Islamic countries. This is just a vertical version.

    I lived 6 blocks from the WTC on 9/11; my cousin Christopher died in the attack. Students of mine were injured. I think it’s an insensitive place for Imam Rauf to choose, but if he HAS to build near the site, 51 Park Place is about 3 blocks north of the WTC. By moving about 3 blocks south, into Battery Park City, he won’t have a narrow, dark street with terrible parking (as a rabbi advised the Imam: Plan for baby strollers!), and the construction won’t drive neighbors mad — as the Frank Gehry construction on equally narrow nearby Spruce St. has!

    By the way, there are 2 tiny mosques already inoffensively in the area, neither of which supports Imam Rauf’s Islam (one is Sufi).

    Even by including all BMCC, NYU, and Pace University Muslim students, all food vendors and cab drivers, and all employees in the area, they’re not likely to fill a 13 to 15 story complex! Not even if the 2 current mosques close!

    And that to some extent is the subtext: Imam Rauf is planning/hoping for an enormous influx of enough Muslims to triumphantly fill his complex. He doesn’t want to build where a large Muslim community really needs his services, as in my own Bronx neighborhood which lacks a mosque for a large and rapidly increasing cheerfully Muslim population. I’d not only welcome building here, but would suggest he pick a great empty lot on Westchester and Olmstead Aves., right on subway & bus lines!

    • Thanks for all this information. I suppose what you are describing is the old “build it and they will come” thinking that used to work in catholicism :-) While I rather doubt the Imam reads this blog perhaps your suggestion will reach him!

  18. Robert G. says:

    George Washington said in his farewell address, among many other things, “With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles.” This was the common assumption of the Founders of the USA. They understood that they founded a Christian nation (though certainly not a theocracy) built upon the Western Tradition, even if they were not all themselves devout, practicing Christians. Over our nation’s history, we have of course come to be the country of greatest Jewish habitation, and more recently have come to terms with assimilating immigrants of many eastern religions. It was therefore necessary to come to a greater understanding of the principles of tolerance and mutual respect. With that said, we have no obligation to equally privilege all religions in the United States. Christianity, including our own Catholicism, has every right to be supremely privileged, without denigrating or trampling upon the religious freedom of others. Americans should make the moral argument that the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero is unwanted in the same way that Islamic triumphalism was unwanted–to say the least–in southern Spain for centuries. We need to get beyond politically correct, namby pamby, and, ultimately, secularly driven agruments. The reason that making this moral argument (not legal argument) should not come back to bite Catholics is because we are part of the very fiber of this nation from its founding.

    • richtea says:

      Precisely. John Quincy Adams had his say as well: “In the seventh century of the Christian era, a wandering Arab of the lineage of Hagar [i.e., Muhammad], the Egyptian, combining the powers of transcendent genius, with the preternatural energy of a fanatic, and the fraudulent spirit of an impostor, proclaimed himself as a messenger from Heaven, and spread desolation and delusion over an extensive portion of the earth. Adopting from the sublime conception of the Mosaic law, the doctrine of one omnipotent God; he connected indissolubly with it, the audacious falsehood, that he was himself his prophet and apostle. Adopting from the new Revelation of Jesus, the faith and hope of immortal life, and of future retribution, he humbled it to the dust by adapting all the rewards and sanctions of his religion to the gratification of the sexual passion. He poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex, and the allowance of polygamy; and he declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind. THE ESSENCE OF HIS DOCTRINE WAS VIOLENCE AND LUST: TO EXALT THE BRUTAL OVER THE SPIRITUAL PART OF HUMAN NATURE.”
      Obviously, Adams got the true measure of things without worrying about what sort of logic to apply; he just applied the truth.

      • Very interesting quote! To be fair, the logic that concerns me is not about the veracity of Isalm for Christ is the Truth, but rather the logic that concerns me is the attempt to refuse a building permit merely on the basis that the presence of a building of a religious group might cause some to be hurt or offended. This logic can also be applied against us and, as the comments above demonstrate, such logic is already being applied to some extent.

  19. Andy Coan says:

    You raise a very good point, Monsignor. While we are obliged to insist that our government agree with the Church on matters of natural law (e.g., abortion), we are probably best served by having the government stay out of this one.

  20. GABRIEL says:

    DO WHAT YOU MUST TO DEFEND THE CHURCH.

  21. Richard says:

    I think the issue is sensitivity on the part of those who would want to build a mosque at the site where the world had seen the horror of a terrible crime done against innocent people in the name of religious justice. The vivid picture of the airplane deliberately flying into the Twin Towers cannot just be blocked out from memory, nor the anguish and pains on the faces of those who were trying to survive and their families. If Islam really is into promoting peace and goodwill with others, then this is the point by which they can demonstrate it: build that mosque elsewhere, not in that place which stands as testimony to the heinous crime committed by Muslims. The interviews with Daisy Kahn and her husband did not help any. They lack compassion for others.

  22. Ferde Rombola says:

    Regarding the ‘logic we use’ in opposing this proposed nest for subversives, if anyone can make the case that the Catholic Church has as its ultimate goal the destruction and take-over of the USA, then maybe there is a logic to supporting it. WIth all due respect, Msgr., I don’t think your logic is in any way logical.

    These people are our enemies to the death. The mindless attitude of the West generally that we need to accept them in our midst is suicidal.

    The demand that Saudi Arabia guarantee the construction of Christian churches in its cities before this project can proceed is the best way to kill it. And it MUST be killed.

    • Terence Filmore says:

      “These people” being 5m-7, fellow American citizens. “These people” being c. 200,000 members of our armed forces. Generalizations about “these people” serve no purpose. “These people” being neighbors, work colleagues, and friends to many (Christian) Americans.

      Don’t you realize, Ferde, that terrorist extremists use your language about us? “These people [Americans, the West] hate us/are trying to colonize us/want to eradicate our religion and culture?”

      Some of the content of these discussions makes me wonder if this really is America in 2010 – or Europe in 1930. Soon someone will suggest that Muslims should wear crescents on their clothes so us faithful Christians can see them coming.

      • richtea says:

        I do not know where you pluck your numbers from, but it surely is not the official statistics. The Mahomedan population of the U.S. (“fellow citizens”, many of whom would quietly cheer any successful terror attack against other fellow citizens, with some even fighting their fellow citizens in distant lands) is set at about 0.5% of the whole, nowhere near your fancy guesstimate. The Defense Department reported 3,409 Muslims on active military duty as of April 2008, although the number could allegedly be at least three times higher, since many and for a number of reasons, keep their denomination to themselves. What is the makeup of your actual multiplicator to reach “c.200,000″?
        If “these discussions” make you wonder, it is a misplaced concern. Europe in 1930 did not have a problem with Muslims – that was decisively settled in 1683, and onwards. Yet there is a word you miss out here – Jews; that was 1930s. If an analogy of this sort would apply at all now, it would be the Middle East and Israel, which is facing the Arab threat akin to that of the former Nazi Germany. Surely it would be enlightening to test your “fellow citizen” concept in countries like Somalia. Should you not know, that is where Islam rules and for some, Ramadan is a funny period indeed. Christians will certainly recognize a Mahomedan when they see one, which is probably why they ask for our prayer right now. Should we tell the Christian President of the United States, just in case? Somehow I do not think he mentioned them in his Ramadan dinner speech (“So tonight, we celebrate a great religion, and its commitment to justice and progress.”).

  23. It isn’t my logic. I agree that what radical Islam has done cannot be compared to any apparent harm that the Church may be said to cause. But in the end, many DO speak of the Catholic Church in very derrogatory ways. And while I think their remarks and attitudes are unfair it is they who may well use this same logic and declare the presence of a Catholic Church to cause pain and anger and like the mosque insist it not be built.

    • richtea says:

      Dear Monsignor

      I am afraid you did not get the right handle on the topic, and effectively committed the error of utilitarianism by raising the question whether a thing might be damaging to the Church, thus causing pain. This would fall under the Hedonistic fallacy and run contrary to Catholic dogma. For the correct question should be presented in terms of whether allowing a mosque (let us not mince words here, mosque is a mosque is a mosque!) to be built in the vicinity of the still gaping Ground Zero would be RIGHT or WRONG. The answer must come from the gut, not from logic, and it must come immediately. If someone wavers, hesitates, let-me-sees it, he is not the one to answer it since he lacks the moral fiber to do so. I am sure you know what the answer is, since there is only one way a Christian can respond. It is all about morality, not any potential profit or loss. No need to use logic here, proper or flawed, just our God-given conscience. Following this natural, de profundis answer, we can easily heap any number of substantiating arguments one upon the other. Contrary arguments will have no value since they can only support immorality.

      Those “many” who speak of the Church badly are enemies of the Church; we are used to have them. Since these “many” may also be in position of power, they could do harm to the Church; we are used to that. And we must fight them. We are used to that, too. This is no time for timidity because times may be bad. On the contrary, it should be a challenge especially for the Catholics to rise to.

      Islam is not only a heresy of a giant order but also a vicious enemy of Christianity and our civilization. No quarters must be given to it. There is no quid pro quo in this equation – the die is cast once and for all. I find it unfortunate that you provided a video link to Mahomedan activists who freely practice taqqiya in order to hoodwink their audiences. Frankly, life is too short for me as a Christian to listen to any Mahomedan, sweet or sour. We must counter their propaganda, not go along with it or even fall for it. Give me the Pope, anytime – I should rather drink from a fountain of life than look into the poison cup of death that Islam tries to pour down everyone´s throat.

      So there really is no petty dispute about a particular building. It is simply us versus them, and that is the way it should be, so why waste words on logical arguments. As John Paul II pointed out in reference to St Paul, the Apostle offers us the Word of Wisdom, not the wisdom of words. That is what we need to go by.

      • Well perhaps you could avoid referring to my position as hedonism, it isn’t a very productive assertion. As far as having a mosque at ground zero, I am not sure if it is a matter of right and wrong. It seems rather to me a question of sensitivity. It is for that I reason that I do not favor a mosque there. Further I am not sure that it is generally a good idea for answers to come “from the gut” as say.

  24. mike cliffson says:

    Monsignor
    perhaps your point is more valid than your timing at present state of play.
    Your point is as well put in “man for all seasons” : If you cut down the law when it favours another, where do you hide when they turn on you?

    And-well I know- hate and vengence is such a temptation.

    But

    Not everyone who protests something is necessarily demanding new Government powers, tho it often comes to that.

    !0 years to get nowhere with the authorities on Rebuilding St nics. Not building, REbuilding. . Equality before the law:
    Whatever group buys a building, they presumably have many, but not unlimited rights, to do what they want in it. In this case a particular moslem group.whose particularities are now under scrutiny, bought a property a while back ,to few echoes.
    Then they announced their “initiative” to the four winds. The NY authorties were welcoming. Is protesting that or any political judgement a bad prececedent?
    Most recently they have had a politically bulldozed planning process in less than months, which was defended as “no bigotry.” (The whole world was watching, the US wasn’t. Perhaps NY is “a faraway country of which we know nothing.”)

    In other words, how many people might be unhappy with this inequality before the law alone?
    Would reconsidering really be such a dangerous precedent for Catholics &/or other Christians? When was the last time in the US that a Catholic church was given ultrarapid, irregular, probably illegal planning permission to demolish and rebuild, 3 times higher, with the authorities insisting that any objections, even if merely to the speed,were “bigotry’? (Probably boston some time back, but now?) see carl’s comment!

    Surely , priviliged treatment justifies protest?

    Equally, in the public sphere as many have commented , It is a bit odd that The US should pay for the Iman’s fundraising travels. Or are there monsignores, say, on the US payroll on outreach tours, to say the philipines or Venezuela? You work for washington , even on a more regular basis, with no religion involved, you got the connects, , you get permission already to demolish and build three times higher anywhere your party governs? Surely, does the church in the USA NEED corrupt connects to get anything done, “cause that’s the American way”? and will suffer if other corrupt connects are protested?

    Not outright( and illegal? )banning in itself ( in this as in many things tolerance, due process of law etc )sends the wrong message to most moslem mentalities: , weakness. That can’t be helped.
    But what message is sent by this preferential treatment A. to all muslims B The tendencies within islam?Worldwide.

    The rest of us in the rest of the world will suffer from that.

  25. GABRIEL says:

    WHY NOT LEAVE IT UP TO GOD?

    AS YOU KNOW, HE WILL BE COMING.

    SOON.

  26. Linus says:

    Quite frankly I believe Muslims in this country should be treated exactly like Christians are treated in Muslim countries. Our country and individual Americans and institutions have extended financial and other aid to Muslim countries in time of need. Where has it gotten us? Has it made the lives of Christians in Muslim countries more tolerable, more bearable? I think most Muslims are committed to Shaira and Jihad at some level and are thus committed to the overthrow of culture and way of life. The Mosque at Ground Zero is inteded as a sign of victory, it is a claim made on our land and way of life and that Muslims regard themselves as in a ” state of war ” in our regard. Anyone who doubts this simply has not studied Islam. I don’t care how we stop the building of the Mosque, just stop it!!!

    • Shawn Simpson says:

      Jesus did say “turn the other cheek”, “bless those who curse you”! As for the “state of war” we are charged to defend the temple of the holy spirit! and were my beliefs not tempered by the first two, I might hold a BBQ of pork chops in front of the proposed site, maybe dripping grease across the theshholds to the buildings! But, that is not what GOD has commanded of me, I am to love my neighbor as myself and to further “love them as I have loved you!” If my other post(s) in this section are published, please read them, this is an opportunity to bring our brothers closer to Jesus and increase religous tolerance and unity.

  27. Leonard says:

    I think your concern is very valid Msgr. Pope. This situation may make things more difficult for the Catholic Church’s building projects in the future. Politics is institutionalized (non-violent) conflict. It is the way we settle conflicts without taking up arms. Freedom is always paid for with a price. If Christianity and Catholicism are going to keep their freedoms in the USA then Christians and Catholics must enter into the institutionalized fray before it becomes a non-institutionalized violent conflict. I do think that Catholics must be as sensitive to the rights of Americans who are legitimately offended by Islamic aggression (weather overt IE 9/11 or covert) as well as the rights of Muslims to worship. The right to worship however does not equate to the right to build a place of worship wherever you want to, as we have seen in the numerous examples given above. Since when are Catholics not supposed to be up for a meaningful political battle or a Just War for that matter. Peace is better, but not peace at any price, convenience is good but not at any price.

  28. Richard says:

    With due respect, Msgr., as a Christian and a Catholic, I would still make a stand to oppose the building of the mosque in solidarity with those who had suffered greatly in this brutal episode, even to the detriment of the Catholic Church’s plans to build later on. You have already stated, ” in the last 40 years the government has already been intrusive when it comes to building anything,” but I still maintain that the government will not have that absolute mandate over the will of the people. I do not think that democracy can be completely quashed by legislation because the American people value their freedom, no matter what anyone thinks, and their voices will still be heard. The future of the leaders of this country are still in the hands of the people. Also, Msgr., the Church had gone through persecutions in her history, but she stands solid and strong, despite the weaknesses of her shepherds, because she is not afraid to stand by the Truth. She will withstand another persecution. God bless America.

  29. Dismas says:

    Well, I’ve given this much thought today, it’s quite the Hegelian dialectic. The problem is what to define as the thesis and antithesis. In the end, for thesis, I chose Increased Islamic Influence vs. antithesis of increased State controlled Religion. Given the two, the choice wasn’t finally difficult.

    Let ‘em have their Islamic Center. Although I know little of the Koran, I know it at least contains some truth. Anyone who truly seeks God can eventually be brought to the fullness of the truth. The Government on the other hand, operates on little or no truth, no longer seeks God and may not any longer be redeemable.

    Finally, what got us here is the first place? After re-reading Amos 6, I know I’m culpable and can’t help but think we as a Nation have contributed to bringing this upon ourselves. Maybe we should use this opportunity to better utilize our many gifts and riches with a greater charity and humility, to restore this great Nation to the shining light God unmistakably intended it to be?

  30. Robertlifelongcatholic says:

    Jesus said, ” Dost thou see all these great buildings? There will not be left one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
    “Take care that no one leads you astray. For many will come in My name saying, ‘I am he': and they will lead many astray. But when you hear of wars and rumors of war, do not be alarmed; for they must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nations will rise against nations and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These things are the beginning of sorrows.
    “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. And when they lead you away to deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to speak; but speak whatever is given you in that hour. For it is not you who are speaking, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will hand over brother to death, and father his child; children will rise up against parents and put them to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake; but he who has preserved to the end will be saved.”
    So much for logic. Logic is the language of lawyers and they use it daily to give new meanings to our laws and subvert the will of the people. This issue will be match to light the political powder keg if they build the ground zero mosque. Bring it on.

  31. Philippus says:

    Freedom of Religion and worship is the gateway to perdition. Why? The parameters were not spelled out to protect Christianity–and now, you have the homosexual dissidents, the Muslims and all other anti-Catholic or apathetic usurping Christianity and morphing it into something else. All because Freedom of Religion and Worship provides a big tent.

    Authentic Christianity survived till today (for 2,000 years) because people did not seek protection under the faith under such plurality and erroneous definitions. The early Christians tread to new found land where paganism was universal and the convinced the pagan world to turn toward Christianity instead of compromising the faith.

    We claim to be free in this country, but this so called freedom has a choke hold on us and we will suffer implosion because of this.

    Philipus

  32. PR says:

    I will ask only one question and let me know if Christian community and all other religions get proper answer:

    My Question: WILL THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY ALLOW US TO CONSTRUCT A CATHOLIC CHURCH IN MECCA & MEDINA? IF THEY HAVE OBJECTION TO IT, WHY SHOULD CONSTRUCTION OF MOSQUE BE PERMITTED AT GROUND ZERO.

    I HAVE LOT TO ASK. SUFFICE IT TO SAY NOW.

    BEST REGARDS
    PR

  33. Kinana says:

    Dear Msgr. Pope

    Interesting angle you take. I thank you for doing so.

    My reply: I tend to distrust the role of government in most things and agree with the statement that the best government is the government that governs least.

    So the role of government in a healthy democratic society is a constant back and forth, involving much discussion. I think there is a general agreement on one crucial role the government plays: that is in defending the country from enemies, ‘both foreign and domestic’ as the pledge goes.

    If a group of people motivated by an ideology seek to undermine and destroy society then Government needs to respond in defence.

    So the question that needs to be asked of any belief system, Christianity as well as Islam, is: does this belief system promote the common good or does it seek to destroy that which the majority want to keep.

    If the case is proven or at least not disproven then manifestations of that belief system need to be prevented in order to protect society.

    But as you mention, the Government is already involved in building regulations and new buildings so your logic, it seems to me, is slightly flawed to begin with, even on private property. (I am assuming here that you would not agree to zero government regulations on even private property?)

    So the Government (local and national levels) need to make decisions on criterion that reflects the benefit or harm of that particular belief system. In society not everything is allowed. And the arbitrator is Government.

  34. Leonard says:

    Hi Dismas,

    Perhaps you have good reason to be skeptical of our Government’s motives, but America was founded as ‘One Nation Under God’ and Mary is our Patron Saint. The Catholic Carol Family financed much of the Revolutionary War effort and far too many Catholic Heroes have shed their blood in America’s defense to give up now! America just needs a lttle “tough love” I believe and a lot of good example.

    Islam has many elements of Truth but it is not the Truth. Catholics must realize their responsibility as creatures made in the image and likeness of God to stand up for Truth at any cost and conquer all fear and doubt with the armor of Christ and the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith. God did not make any of his children to fail. In dealing with the current administration or beauracracy in general or Islamic extremeism when the demons of self doubt oppress us we must bind them and cast them out by the Authority of Jesus and do what we are meant to do.

    • Dismas says:

      Leonard,

      It seems I need to clarify my previous comments. They referred solely to Gov’t intervention of the building of the Islamic Center. These comments did not make any reference to and were never intended to provide commentary regarding the stance or response of individual Catholics or the Catholic Church.

      Regards,
      Dismas.

  35. Louise says:

    One point is being overlooked. Islam makes no distinction between religion and politics. They are one and the same in the Muslim mind. To build a mosque is to build a political institution. To invade religiously is to invade politically. To dominate religiously is to dominate politically. To establish a religious center is to establish a political center. To remember that is to alter the debate.

  36. Jack Smith says:

    People tend to forget history. Christians fought to preserve the holy lands and the Jews. Muslims fought to destroy the holy land and the extermination of all Jews. Nothing has changed since then. The building of a training center for muslims near one of their greatest strikes against Christians and Jews is not only stupid but a slap in the face for all who believe in Democracy. In the muslim world Theocracy rather than Democracy is the form of government used. Woman have no rights. Beating your wife is acceptable. Freedom must be defended or you will be consumed by the powers of a dominating culture. So, if you are ready to become something other than an American keep giving in to the powers of evil and you will be consumed by it. I pray for all who desire to maintain the freedom of the United States. There should be no training center for muslims near any freedom monument.

  37. mike cliffson says:

    Dear Msgr. Pope

    I had not sufficiently considered the timing of your post.
    It Is after the statements of your President.
    It looks as if the goalposts have moved – Why accept that?
    The immediate question previously was whether the Authorities in NY should make THIS particular project of THIS particular Moslem and associates, their own and proiritize building permission etc –
    -the authorities’ line was that any opposition to their policy was necessarily equivalent to bigotry and intolerance in favour of removing any moslem’s right to so much as breathe the air anywhere on the planet.
    Now you Americans seem to be taking for granted that the authorities have behaved impeccably and legally.
    So
    the only question is a whole flipflop for the authorities , apparently we must now accept that, having behaved hunkydory and worthily of being canonized by any standard , they are being asked to prohibit somthing just cause some people FEEL bad about it –
    – which, you are right, would sure be a bad precedent for any Catholic even so much as walking down the street rosary in hand, or imagined to be in hand, letalone clergy, let alone buildings.- we sure do hurt people by our very existance.
    What should you do?
    As well as pray, I don’t know!
    Fr Z suggests , rather, pushing for a chapel for saints Nunilo and Alodia hard by.
    Would the authories also give that an equal fasttrack building permission?
    Or : play on their turf and accept their goalposts : hatefully protest an isamic groundzeroish presence in NY, period?
    Reflections:
    First priority: Evangelizing and reevangelizing. (Including by example. Which as a lousy sinner doesn’t leave me looking pretty)
    Secondary to that is having the lord of Truth reign in his own Domains. In so many things, we seem to accept their turf, their goalposts, their relativism, their version of history,the MSM as arbiters of the terms of public discourse.
    In Europe, but two years ago, I was crossbuttocked by A Catholic school principal over a textbook reducing Jesus Christ to a teacher, genderflexible ethics, etc:” that’s YOUR opinion.”
    I was trapped by my own sins into lacking the innocence of doves and the wileyness of serpents , into playing the game his way: opinion . which is the wrong term in the first place. The truth doesn’t float around in some sorter opinion free-market..
    If we play the game on their turf we’ll always lose.
    And we’re gonna get 100 for one WITH persecution whatever we do right.

  38. Anne says:

    1. “We are the principal producers of pornography for youth around the world.”

    2.” Our country exports pornography: it encourages euthanasia and abortion. Do you wonder why people hate us?”

    3. Jesus says,”Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul: rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

    Above are quotes from Father Benedict Groeschel C.F.R. from his book The Cross At Ground Zero

    95,000 abortions were reported to CDC in New York City in 2000. Please focus on the terror that is ACTUALLY occurring right now.

    • Yes, there are unpleasant things in the mirror but I also think we are a wonderful source for good in the world too. We are very generous especially in disasters for example.

      • Dismas says:

        Dear Anne,

        If this site had a comments rating system, ie; 1-5 Stars or maybe Crosses. Your post would receive a 5 Cross rating from me!!!!!

  39. Shawn Simpson says:

    The proposed site of the CORDOBA house Islamic center/mosque WAS hit by parts of the airplanes used to attack America, even the name CORDOBA refers to Muslim conquest and supremecy! I don’t argue the right to build there, however with every right comes RESPONSIBILITY, and that is the bigger issue! It is a diliberate stab at us.
    I would instead call for a multi-religous center to be built at the site, housing a Mosque, Synagogue, Catholic Church, and as many other religions and denominations as will contribute, so that all GODs children can worship HIM together! Let this be an opportunity for true religous freedom and unity, rather than the devicive abomination being proposed.
    Maybe a ring shaped structure around the site with different churches shrines and temples in each section, with each section consecrated according to the rites of its’ occupying religion. Airwalls could keep each service from overriding the neighbor where overlap occurs in their schedules and for multi belief prayer and national ceremonies they could all be opened.
    It is time to return religous freedom to this country and this would be a great step in that direction, let us include all, instead of banning some or all.

  40. Shawn Simpson says:

    Ultimately, Christians, Muslims and Jews are brothers and worship the same GOD!
    Jesus was a JEW! Islam is another offshoot of Judaism!(don’t argue this with MOST Muslims, they will resent you for it!)
    Jews are still awaiting fulfillment of the prophecy, Christians believe we have the fulfillment of the prophecy and Muslims believe the Prophet was fulfillment and modification of the prophecy.
    We all believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses!
    As we are brothers, we have to ask ouselves; Am I my brothers keeper? and right now the answer is; NO.
    And neither do my brothers keep me/us.
    This MUST change! Which doesn’t mean we give up spreading the truth of Jesus, but, we do need to reach out to each other and work towards true brotherhood and unity as children of God.

  41. JMJ says:

    I am reading all thiese posts and I must say, that I personally do not like the idea of the Islamic Center being built there, that with the question of logic, it may very well be a “wise thing for us Catholics to support it”. As stated we are being persecuted anyway, and our churches have suffered not doubt about it. But……the church should step in and try to dialogue using the constitution and charity. If we can do that and convince the victims families that this may very well be a good thing in that it should protect all the churches from this point on. This would set a precedent from here on that would allow other churches, especially OURS

  42. JMJ says:

    (I am reposting as I hit the button too soon)
    I have read all these posts and I must say, that I personally do not like the idea of the Islamic Center being built there and with the question of logic, it may very well be a “wise thing for us Catholics to support it”. As stated we are being persecuted anyway, and our churches have suffered no doubt about it. But……the church may want to step in and try to dialogue using the constitution and charity. If we can do that and convince the victims families that this may very well be a good thing in that their sacrifice of their “pain” may be a catalyst that would help protect our churches from this point on. This would set a precedent whereby they cannot stop us from building a church for any reason. They would not be able to deny us our rights in the future. That being said, I would think that this particular Mosque,etc., would be closely watched.

    What say all of you?
    God Bless and Protect Our Country

    • Russ Miller says:

      “the church may want to step in and try to dialogue using the constitution and charity. If we can do that and convince the victims families that this may very well be a good thing in that their sacrifice of their “pain” may be a catalyst that would help protect our churches from this point on”

      Is the Church here to perpetuate itself? With the Mosque builders receiving grand attention and the Muslims being granted special status in our “politically correct” culture, I would think that The Church would not be asking the meek (the victims families) to again sacrifice. Have they not sacrificed enough?

      Russ Miller

      • JMJ says:

        Yes, they have suffered tremendously, no doubt. My thinking was because the Catholic Church and Christianity along with prayer now, in these times are being so attacked and they are trying to stifle our freedom, it might be a way of protecting our rights to build, pray and to continue on with the purpose of “saving souls”, as the church’s sole intent. This is a suggestion as scripture says that “God confounds the Wise”. If we go along with this with the intent of “loving our enemies” and with good faith, we as Christians cannot then, be forbidden to practice our faith and build our churches, with the “erroneous cry of separation of church and state”. Our culture wants us out of society, permanently, if possible. Of course we know who really is the enemy using the people for this purpose. We may use this to our advantage, with the proper motive of course.

        However, I am very sensitive of the cost it would be to the families. It would certainly SHOCK our enemies. But at times we are called to pay a very high price” to protect Holy Mother Church. Just something that came to mind as a possiblity to counter attack what is happening here in our country. Maybe giving them just what they want of course prudently with all investigations in order.

        Just a thought.

        JMJ

        If we stop that building, how much more will they use that as an excuse to stop us building Catholic Churches and Schools, along with prayer, and our published books too.

        A hard choice of course. I am prayerful for the right course to happen regarding this situation that will not bring about violence in the end.

    • richtea says:

      JMJ, if your surname is not Bloomberg, be advised that you are following in his footsteps more or less exactly; just replace “Church” with “Temple”. I thought the NYC Mayor was spouting psycho-babble when pressed at close quarters why he so anxiously went along with the offensive Mahomedan project. I also thought he was incoherent and deluded at that point. His phrasing was peculiar, with “If we let them build it, they will let us build our Temple,” or words to that effect. Not other precedent would follow but that Islam can do as it pleases in America, everyone else be damned. Surely you do not want that. You do not seem to realize Catholics have no business in persuading 9/11 victims´ families to do anything, and it is a non sequitur at that: Never mind the families, it is two thirds of the nation that oppose the abomination at Ground Zero. Come to think of it, I am not quite sure whether you are a devil´s advocate.
      May God guard your thoughts!

  43. Mary says:

    Msgr. Pope, I have read through all the posts and one thing is certain no one wishes our government to be involved. The only problem with that is that the actions of the American people have left the government no choice BUT to get involved. By oppossing the building of the Islamic Community Center the Center was required to take a harder stand and here we are today.

    The land and current building has been owned by the Muslim group since 1968 and is private property, and as such they have the right to re-construct a community center of 4 floors with a worship room on the 5th floor. This is not a brand new building just dropping in from nowhere. The Muslims in the area have been there for sometime and in fact, 31of them died in the Twin Towers on 9/11 among the 3000 count. Their families are just as affected by the tragedy as anyone else’s. Probably more since they are now being accused of partaking in the terrorist attack by association as a Muslim. The tragedy never ends for them.

    I ask you, are all Christians unholy and criminals by association because of Timothy McVeigh’s Oklahoma bombing and killings? Or any religious fundamentalists and their association members?

    America is the land of the free, but it seems that some Americans insist that it be free only to those they believe are the ‘correct’ kind of free. Persisting in this way will only continue government intervention and civil disagreement. “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” Matthew 12:25

    The new Islamic Community Center is for all races, colors and creeds, not just Muslims in an effort to reach out to the community and communicate knowledge of each other. Osama Bin Ladin would like nothing more than for America to be a divided house, which seems to be the main objective of his plan. If he can cause Americans, through their various fundamentalist religious organizations, to incite heresy and civil war, we will be doing his job for him. We will ruin ourselves so that he will not have to do it himself.

    I believe that we must look into our hearts and see that pride that is within and understand God’s love for all His children and offer that same acceptance love here. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” Proverbs 16:18. Or, we can just play into Osama Bin Ladin’s hands to our own demise. We have a choice now to do what is right in the eyes of God and our life-giving souls.

    Our Lord said not a word when he was arrested willingly, tried, spit on, beaten, scorged, crowned with thorns, carried his cross to Golgotha, nailed to it, lifted up for all to see, before he said his first words. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they have done.”

    The forgiveness of others is used to obtain harmony while disharmony exists all around you. Love and harmony comes from self-forgiveness and non attachment to self (ego). It is the means by which we open up to compassion and compassion is that which leads to aiding all suffering, personal or world suffering.

    Non-attachment and aiding world and personal suffering IS compassionate in a non-egoic emotional way that does not cause further pain. It recognizes the ills of the world without carrying those ills within your heart. It allows one to do what they can without guilt, pride or shame. Attaching yourself to world suffering is the ego emotional painful way that stems from not forgiving yourself for the ‘things’ done to you or that you have done to others. It attaches yourself to the suffering of others and holds you to the outcome of any aid that you may offer. It promotes pride, guilt and shame depending on the outcome.

    I believe that when Romans 12:2 says, “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”, it means living daily without regret because you live in love and forgiveness. When you are harmonious within and give of yourself to the best of your ability, there is no reason to not be okay with that.

    • Daniel says:

      I agree with Mary. Nostra Aetate says it beautifully:

      “The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men.

      3. The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

      Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom. ”

      It is disheartening to see the amount of animosity portrayed here (which at times sounds hateful), and doesn’t seem very Christian. There is also a very strong tendency to want to highlight the differences between us, or the superiority of Catholicsm OVER Islam–More of the “Church Militant” imagery. Moreover, even those who espouse “tolerance” for the building of a Mosque seem to do so only so that no one will interfere with “our Churches”. N.A is clear about trying to be like Jesus–start by treating people as people and finding common ground. AFter all, our goal is the Kingdom of God, not for our team to “win”. As a Church we highly esteem the Muslims.

      • richtea says:

        Please specify the Muslims “we” highly esteem. I am desirous of enlightenment.

      • Daniel says:

        Richtea,
        In my opinion as a lay Catholic it refers to the hundreds of millions of people throughout the world who genuinely seek God through Islam. You might also ask your pastor to explain this official teaching of the Church since he officially shares in the teaching ministry of the bishop.

      • Robert G. says:

        Daniel: You sound like a bit of religious relativist. Perhaps *you* ought to ask your pastor to explain to you, “Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus.”

  44. Maureen says:

    There are already mosques within two blocks of “Ground Zero” and if someone wants to build an Islamic Cultural Center nearby also, I have no problem with that. I don’t like the way this issue has been turned into a right-wing cudgel to beat people into an Islamophobic frenzy. We should be in favour of religious groups of all sorts being able to build wherever they have or can get property or we risk one day being unable to build a new parish in an area which (wrongly) sees the Church as a bad neighbor itself.

  45. JMJ says:

    Are the mosques within the two bock radius of “Ground Zero” been here all along or were they build after 9/11? I wasn’t aware these mosques were just as close as this one was. There are many opinions on this mosque and which I respect all thoughts. I should have stated that as long as this mosque is not a threat, maybe the Catholic Church could influence the decision. My thoughts were closer to Maureen’s post, and if they were to build,the families would have to be comforted somehow. I fear that making them move, unless it could be proven they are a threat, is going to start more problems because they do have the “right”. As stated above,I do not like the idea but this is my personal emotional feelings. By the way, the Catholic Church is stepping in as Archbishop Dolan is meeting with Governor Paterson today. I believe it’s to help make a decsion to move it farther away,but I guess the church will be persecuted either way. I just thought there may be a more peaceful way starting with the families. If the families were to agree, then I thought it would be a step toward healing and Our Church would be part of that. And it would be hard for them to stop us building, because it has been done. Maybe this is far fetched considering 2/3 of the country disagree, so do I, but that doesn’t mean I am right. I certainly am not a devil’s advocate, it was just a thought that came to mind. With all the insanity that is going on I hardly think my thoughts are so bad. I believe whichever way it goes, there is still going to be a lot of backlash. I was born in NYC and I pray no violence will take place because of this issue.

  46. gakkuliahgakkiamat says:

    i can’t see the interview :(

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