North Carolina church cancels Quran reading, plans interfaith dialogue

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A plan to allow for the reading of the Quran from the pulpit during a Mass at St. Peter Church in Charlotte June 26 has been canceled, with an interfaith dialogue planned for October instead.

St. Peter Parish had agreed to take part in an event called Faith Shared, in which priests, rabbis and Muslim scholars are scheduled to read sacred texts in each other’s houses of worship. The event is a project of two groups, the Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First.

In announcing the cancellation June 7, Jesuit Father Patrick Earl, pastor of St. Peter, noted that a 2004 Vatican document, “Redemptionis Sacramentum” (“The Sacrament of Redemption”) expressly forbids the reading of texts from other religions during the celebration of Mass.

Father Earl was not aware of the Vatican prohibition when he agreed to host the event.

In a May 27 telephone interview, he told Catholic News Service he was prompted to sign on to the Faith Shared initiative after recalling things he had heard during meetings of Mecklenburg Ministries, an interfaith clergy group in the Charlotte area.

“I’ve heard from Muslim imams about what they and their congregations have suffered just from the fear, the fear of what they call Islamophobia,” Father Earl said.

One recent instance was related to an Islamophobia conference held in Charlotte earlier in May. “Some of the clergy coming here had trouble flying here because of the fear of some of the pilots, and so they were late getting here,” said the priest.
According to The Charlotte Observer, at least two imams wearing traditional garb heading to the conference were taken off one plane when the pilot allegedly said he would not fly with them as passengers and they had to catch a later plane to Charlotte.

“There is animosity in our country … between the Christians and Muslims and the Christian community needs to address that,” Father Earl said June 7.
The plan to allow the reading of the Quran at St. Peter was in its formative stage. Father Earl had not yet contacted a member of the Muslim faith to conduct the reading.

Now St. Peter Church plans to host an interfaith event during the month of October as part of its observance of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
St. Francis engaged in a well-known interfaith dialogue during the fifth crusade in 1219 when he met with the Muslim sultan of Egypt

As recently as January of this year, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the cordial reception that Francis received even though he was “armed deliberately only with his faith and his personal meekness.” The pope also pointed out that the meeting was “a model that should inspire relations between Christians and Muslims: to promote a dialogue in truth, in reciprocal respect and in mutual understanding.”

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.