FaithWorld

What would a compromise in NY Muslim centre dispute look like?

nymosque 1One requirement for a reasonable debate is to define the terms being used. The emotional dispute over the planned Cordoba House in New York, in which supporters and opponents are struggling over how to even describe it, is a case in point. Will the boxy modern building that developers have presented and local zoning boards have accepted be a Muslim cultural centre including a mosque? Or, as critics allege, a “Ground Zero mosque”, a term that evokes visions of  domes and minarets rising over the ruins of the World Trade Center. The facts speak for the first option, which is why we have chosen it for our description of this project.

A new element of confusion has entered the debate with calls for a compromise in this dispute. New York Governor David Patterson started this last week, saying that moving the project away from its proposed location would be a “a magic moment in our history” and offering state help to find a new site. He bemoaned the emotional level of the debate on Tuesday: People can’t hear each other anymore … I find it heart-wrenching. I hate to see New Yorkers squaring off against each other.”

nymosque 2New York’s Roman Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan unexpectedly stepped in to welcome Paterson’s proposal and offer his services as a mediator. He first seemed to support the call for moving the project, but some media thought that seemed less clear after he met Paterson on Tuesday. No matter how sincere their intentions are, their effort to find common ground here is fraught with complications. A central problem, the  lay Catholic magazine Commonweal in New York argued, is that “calls for the Muslim organizers to change their plans out of ‘sensitivity,’ however well-meaning, would allow the prejudices of some to define the terms of freedom for others.”

What would a compromise look like and what would it solve? Even the project’s opponents (or at least most of them) say Muslims have the right to build mosques, just not near the World Trade Center site. The location is the core of their opposition. Project leaders insist they will build on the site. There doesn’t seem to be much room there for a compromise, which this online dictionary defines as “a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg tackled this issue in his comments at his annual Iftar dinner for Muslim New Yorkers  in his official residence on Tuesday evening. In his comments, he repeated the eloquent support he gave the project in an earlier speech and then argued that a compromise would not solve the problem:

No musical instruments please, Vatican asks Britons

vuvuzelaPilgrims attending the large public events during Pope Benedict’s visit to England and Scotland next month have been issued a long list of do’s and don’ts including a ban on musical instruments and steel cutlery.

The list encourages worshipers to bring sunblock, flags and folding chairs for the events in Glasgow, London and Birmingham, but said alcohol, gazebos and lit candles should be left at home because they “could pose a threat.” (Photo: A fan blows a vuvuzela at the World Cup 2010 in South Africa, June 22, 2010/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

It did not specifically mention the vuvuzela, but the noisy World Cup trumpet could be considered out of bounds under the category of banned instruments and whistles. The trip from September 16 to 19 will be the first papal visit since Pope John Paul II’s pastoral visit in 1982 and is the first-ever official papal visit to Britain.

Skateboarding Hungarian Catholic priest becomes YouTube hit

A Hungarian Roman Catholic priest has become a YouTube hit with his distinctive method of spreading the word on wheels. Rev. Zoltan Lendvai, 45, who lives and preaches in Redics, a small village on Hungary’s border with Slovenia, believes skateboarding can open the way to God for young people.

“Many times I have felt that this is the way I can bring many people a bit closer to Jesus,” he told Reuters.

Read the full story here and watch the musical “international” version of the video “Funny Priest Skateboarding” below:

U.S. church-run hospitals provide higher quality care — Thomson Reuters study

research briefCatholic and other church-owned systems are significantly more likely to provide higher quality performance and efficiency to the communities served than investor-owned systems, according to a Thomson Reuters analysis of the quality performance of 255 health systems in the United States.

Catholic health systems are also significantly more likely to provide higher quality performance to the communities served than secular not-for-profit health systems, it said. By contrast, investor-owned systems have significantly lower performance than all other groups.

“The findings of the study suggest a changing role for health system governance and leadership,” said Jean Chenoweth, senior vice president for performance improvement and 100 Top Hospitals programs at Thomson Reuters. “Our data suggest that the leadership of health systems owned by churches may be the most active in aligning quality goals and monitoring achievement of mission across the system.”

SPECIAL REPORT – In Irish schools, Catholic Church remains master

irish church school (Photo: A Virgin Mary statue in an Irish school, 3 June 2010/Cathal McNaughton)

Roisin Hyde was five when she was hastily baptised a few days before she started primary school. Hyde’s parents were agnostic but because non-Catholics in Ireland had few other places to learn how to read and write, the family latched onto the only option they knew.

Thirty-five years on and Hyde, an architect in Dublin, is struggling over where to educate her own two-year-old son.  It’s a dilemma faced by parents the world over. But in Ireland, where the Catholic Church runs more than nine in ten primary schools and half of all high schools, it’s a question that too often has just one answer.

“I would say that a lot of my friends, the only time they have been inside a church is to get their kids christened so they could go to the local school,” Hyde, 40, says. “I just feel so hypocritical doing it, going along for one day and then not attending.”

Pope UK visit costs soar, London concerned about protests, Paisley sees “mistake”

Pope  Benedict isn’t visiting Britain until September, but his trip is already making headlines there. Here are our latest reports:

pattenCampaigners planning to stage demonstrations during Pope Benedict’s visit to Britain should show restraint, the prime minister’s special representative for the papal visit, Chris Patten, said on Monday. (Photo: Chris Patten in London, July 5, 2010/Peter Macdiarmid)

Various protests are expected during the first papal state visit to the country in September, including by secularists, gay rights groups and those angry at the child-abuse scandal which has spread throughout the Roman Catholic church globally.

Europe, face veils and a Catholic view of a Muslim issue

burqa 1The French National Assembly begins debating a complete ban on Muslim full face veils in public next week and could outlaw them by the autumn. Belgium’s lower house of parliament has passed a draft ban and could banish them from its streets in the coming months if its Senate agrees. The Spanish Senate has passed a motion to ban them after a few towns introduced their own prohibitions. (Photo: A veiled French woman outside the Belgian Parliament in Brussels/Yves Herman)

Calls to ban “burqas” — the word most widely in Europe used for full veils, even if most full veils seen are niqabs — have also been heard in the Netherlands and Denmark. According to a  Financial Times poll,  the ban proposal also “wins enthusiastic backing in the UK, Italy, Spain and Germany”.

Only a tiny minority of Muslim women in these countries actually cover their faces, but that doesn’t seem to matter. That Switzerland has only four minarets didn’t stop Swiss voters from banning them in a referendum last November (and maybe banning veils next). There seems to be a movement to ban religious symbols that Europeans either reject or fear.

Italy and 10 allies fight Euro rights court’s school crucifix ban

crucifix (Photo: Demonstrator outside European Court of Human Rights with leaflet saying in Italian and French: “Let’s defend the crucifix,” 30 June 2010/Vincent Kessler)

Italy and 10 other European states urged the continent’s top human rights court on Wednesday to overturn its ban on crucifixes in schools, arguing they were signs of national identity and not overtly religious symbols. The alliance of traditionally Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian countries backing Italy’s appeal against the ban which was handed down last November reflected their concern that the court had set a precedent for strict secularism across Europe.

A group of 33 European Parliament members also supported Rome’s appeal against the ban (full text here), which shocked the country and the Vatican at a time when Italy and other European states are debating immigration and religious rights for Muslims.

Most of Italy’s allies are smaller nations — Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, San Marino and Romania — but they also include Russia.  Moscow’s participation reflects the growing activism of the Russian Orthodox Church, which has joined the Roman Catholic Church in denouncing the widespread secularization of a continent once synonymous with the term “Christendom.”

Gunning for Godfried? Belgian abuse probe asks what Danneels knew

standaardAre the Belgian judicial authorities gunning for Godfried? It looks like Cardinal Godfried Danneels, the popular grandfatherly Catholic prelate who stepped down in January as archbishop of Brussels-Mechelen after three decades, is the main target of the incredible “tomb raider” sweeps that shocked the Church last Thursday. The police who swooped down on the diocesan headquarters in Mechelen, Danneels’s own apartment nearby and the offices of the Church commission on abuse in Leuven did not suspect the cardinal of abuse himself. But it seems the investigating magistrate behind the raid is convinced that Danneels hushed up cases during his long reign.

The media seem to be too — just take a look at last Saturday’s front page of the Brussels daily De Standaard at the right.

There may be something there. Let’s see what the investigators come up with.

Pope rebukes Austrian cardinal who accused peer of cover-up

schoenbornPope Benedict, still struggling to control the damage a sexual abuse scandal has done to the Catholic Church’s image, has bluntly told his top advisers that they should not trade accusations in public.

The Vatican issued an unusual statement on Monday in which it effectively said the pope had censured Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, who last month publicly accused another cardinal of covering up sexual abuse. (Photo: Cardinal Schönborn, 23 June 2010/Leonhard Foeger)

“Regarding accusations against a cardinal, we remind everyone that, in the Church, only the pope has the authority to accuse a cardinal,” said the statement, a rare case of the Church making its internal bickering public.