The Lebanese saint who unites Christians and Muslims

Image_from_the_Shrine_of_St_Charbel_Credit_Hannah_Brockhaus__CNAImage from the Shrine of St. Charbel. Credit: Hannah Brockhaus / CNA.

July 24, 2019
Hannah Brockhaus
Catholic News Agency

ANNAYA, Lebanon – St. Charbel Makhlouf is known in Lebanon for the miraculous healings of those who visit his tomb to seek his intercession – both Christians and Muslims.

“St. Charbel has no geographic or confessional limits. Nothing is impossible for [his intercession] and when people ask [for something], he answers,” Fr. Louis Matar, coordinator of the Shrine of St. Charbel in Annaya, Lebanon, told CNA.

Speaking in Arabic with the help of an interpreter, Matar said the shrine, which encompasses the monastery where the Maronite Catholic priest, monk, and hermit lived for nearly 20 years, receives around 4 million visitors a year, including both Christians and Muslims.

Matar, who is responsible for archiving the thousands of medically-verified healings attributed to the intercession of the Maronite priest-monk, said that many miraculous cures have been obtained by Muslims.

Since 1950, the year the monastery began to formally record the miraculous healings, they have archived more than 29,000 miracles, Matar said. Prior to 1950, miracles were verified only through the witness of a priest. Now, with more advanced medical technology available, alleged miracles require medical documents demonstrating the person’s initial illness and later, their unexplainable good health.

One of the miracles documented by Matar at the end of December, when he spoke to CNA, was that of a 45-year-old Italian woman. Suffering from a neurological disease, she was hospitalized after it was discovered she had tried to commit suicide by consuming acid.

In the hospital, the doctors discovered that the damage to her esophagus and intestines was so extensive, “the last way possible to cure her was believing in God and praying,” Matar commented.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CATHOLIC SAN FRANCISCO 

Dewi, a young Muslim woman, on her meeting with Pope Francis

INDONESIA_-_0710_-_Dewi_01Semarang (AsiaNews) – The sight of a smiling Pope Francis shaking hands with an emotional young Muslim woman (picture 1) has gone viral in Indonesia, becoming an iconic image in the world’s most populous Muslim country.

The woman in the picture is Dewi Kartika Maharani Praswida, a 23-year-old student from Wonogiri regency, Central Java province.

“I never expected that my pictures with Pope Francis would cause such hype in Indonesia,” she told AsiaNews,  “but I am happy, because these images reminded many of my compatriots that belonging to different religious communities does not prevent us from being brothers and sisters, children of the same almighty God.”

The photo that made Dewi famous at home was taken on 26 June, during the Pope’s general audience in St Peter’s Square.

“Pope Francis was busy with greetings when he approached the barrier. I was able to exchange a few words with him: ‘I am Muslim and I come from Indonesia. Please, Holy Father, pray for me, for peace in my country and in the whole world. The Pope replied: ‘Of course, I will.’”

“Being able to meet the leader of the Catholic Church, the ‘good man’, the ‘man in white’, was for me a true blessing. Being able to say ‘I am in the prayers of Pope Francis’ was an indescribable joy.”

Dewi has a BA and is now pursuing a Master’s Degree in Environmental and Urban Sciences at the Universitas Katolik Soegijapranata (Unika), a Catholic university in Semarang, the capital of Central Java.

She is involved in interfaith dialogue with Gus Durian, a youth movement affiliated with Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), a moderate Islamic group. With more than 90 million members, NU is the largest Islamic organisation in Indonesia and the world.

Between February and June of this year, the young woman was in Rome to study thanks to the Nostra Aetate Foundation[*], which grants scholarships to young people from other religions who wish to deepen their knowledge of Christianity at Pontifical academic institutions.

Dewi studied at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) and the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI).

“In my city, Semarang, I am involved in activities concerning interreligious dialogue,” Dewi explained. “I have also dedicated my studies to Rome to this topic. But since I was in the heart of world Christianity, I said to myself: ‘Why not to take the opportunity to deepen my knowledge of Christianity and the Catholic Church?’

FULL ARTICLE FROM ASIA NEWS (ITALY)

Muslims in Paris show solidarity with Christians over Notre-Dame fire

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Preparation of the interreligious meeting in Paris, July 6. (Photo by A PASSILLY)

Muslims in France have participated in an interreligious gathering to show support to Catholics who are still coming to terms with last April’s fire that damaged Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.

The Muslims actually requested the gathering as way to offer their solidarity. The meeting was held on July 6 and organized by the Christian movement Efesia as part of the “Together with Mary” interreligious group.

Musicians had been rehearsing for about an hour and people passing by the Quai de la Tournelle, in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, already had their refrain dedicated to Notre-Dame in mind when, around 6 p.m., the gathering officially began.

They followed one another onto the small platform, with its back to the Seine and then on to the cathedral ravaged by the flames on April 15.

Paris’ Auxiliary Bishop Denis Jachiet was on hand to represent Catholics. Anouar Kbibech, Vice-President of the French Council of Muslim Worship, represented the Sunni Muslims, while Sheikh Mohamed Ali Mortada was there for the Shiites.

Much more than the Cathedral of Catholics

“We had organized an event around Mary just before the fire, at the Shiite mosque in La Courneuve, with our friends from Efesia. At a meeting, after the disaster, we asked ourselves how we could show our support for the Christian community,” said Amrina Darmsy Ladha, a Shiite Muslim, after reading a passage from the Quran in front of the 100 people who gathered there.

Like her, many Muslims came to share their sentiments.

FULL ARTICLE FROM INTERNATIONAL LA-CROIX

Notre Dame and Al-Aqsa Fires Give Christians and Muslims a Chance to Work Together to Repair Their Sacred Spaces |

gettyimages-975008304The world watched as the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned, due to a disastrous inferno that nearly crippled the 850-year-old church. Nearly 3,000 miles away, the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem also dealt with an apparently accidental fire of its own.

The al-Aqsa fire received much less attention in the news, but the burning of this 984-year-old mosque draws our attention to two of the important sites in Christendom and the Islamic world. While the fires are indeed unfortunate, they provide an opportunity for Christians and Muslims to reflect upon their common humanity and assist each other in the repairing of sacred spaces.

Outside of Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, Notre Dame Cathedral is considered one of the holiest places in Christendom. For Muslims, al-Aqsa is the third holiest site in Islam behind al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina.

Thankfully, two of the Catholic holy relics in Notre Dame—the Crown of Thorns and the Fragment of the Cross—survived the devastating blaze. No news outlets have reported any damage to al-Aqsa, which was built on the Temple Mount, known as Haram esh-Sharif to Muslims.

The significance of the two fires pushes us beyond the mere structure of the buildings. Notre Dame and al-Aqsa symbolize the challenges and hopes for Christians and Muslims in their respective histories. For centuries, Notre Dame was the epicenter of Christianity on the European continent. Al-Aqsa is the place where Muslims believe Prophet Muhammad was transported during his Night Journey. For Muslims, al-Aqsa is not the most impressive mosque in the world, but it represents the permanent symbol of the Islamic faith in the holy land.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NEWSWEEK 

Interfaith dialogue really is relational, accessible

web RNS-Muslim women Washington stateThere is a particular urgency for Catholics to become participants in dialogue with Muslims

FINDING JESUS AMONG MUSLIMS: HOW LOVING ISLAM MAKES ME A BETTER CATHOLIC
By Jordan Denari Duffner
162 pages; Published by Liturgical Press41fbo3Fz79L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_
$19.95

Earlier this year while on a train in Europe, I sat down across from an Arabic-looking man who began reading the Quran. My immediate first reaction was apprehension and fear. My immediate second reaction was to check my implicit yet real bias for what it was, Islamophobia.

Most striking to me was this incident happened just a few days after I had finished a book on Muslim-Christian relations that addressed these implicit biases to which Catholics like myself are prone. It is precisely because these biases are so ingrained and because Islamophobia is on the rise that Finding Jesus Among Muslims: How Loving Islam Makes Me a Better Catholic by Jordan Denari Duffner is such an important and timely resource.

 

Written primarily for a Catholic audience, the book explores present relations between Christianity and Islam. It does so, however, through the lens of Duffner’s lived experiences with Muslims and the ways in which encountering Islam has helped her find Jesus anew. She never intends the book to be a comprehensive analysis or work of systematic theology. Rather, in her words, Finding Jesus Among Muslims should act as a “facilitator of dialogue.” The book raises more questions than it answers, encouraging readers to go forth and learn more. The author’s rich commitment to Muslims and demonstrated courage in entering vulnerable, liminal spaces inspire readers to become active participants in dialogue.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER 

Franciscans give Jordan’s king award for his peace, dialogue work

20190329T0921-25447-CNS-ASSISI-FRANCISCANS-JORDAN-KING_800-787x514Father Mauro Gambetti, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a ceremony at the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy March 29, 2019. Abdullah was awarded the Lamp of Peace, a top Catholic peace prize presented by the Conventual Franciscans of the Sacred Convent of Assisi. (Credit: Yara Nardi/Reuters via CNS.)

 

AMMAN, Jordan – Jordan’s King Abdullah II urged greater cooperation to take on serious challenges worldwide as he was awarded a top Catholic peace prize by the Conventual Franciscans of the Sacred Convent of Assisi in central Italy.

The annual award, known as the Lamp of Peace, recognizes King Abdullah II’s tireless promotion of peace in the troubled Middle East, support of interreligious dialogue, welcome of refugees and educational reforms.

“To me, the Lamp of Peace of St. Francis symbolizes how peace lights our way forward to a better future for all people, of every faith and country and community,” Abdullah told a packed St. Francis Basilica, housing the saint’s relics and the renowned fresco series of his life.

“But it is our task to provide the fuel for that light, and what fuels global peace is mutual respect and understanding,” Abdullah emphasized, receiving strong applause.

“It is only by combining our efforts that humanity will meet today’s serious challenges – to solve global crises; heal our earth’s environment; and include everyone, especially our youth, in opportunity,” the king told the assembly. Among the crowd were last year’s award recipient, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Franciscan Father Mauro Gambetti presented the Lamp of Peace to the king.

Abdullah asked for a moment of silence to “remember the suffering families and victims of the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, two weeks ago. Such evil, wherever it happens, is our suffering, too.”

As Jordan’s Hashemite monarch, the 41st-generation direct descendant of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, Abdullah has upheld the importance of the Christian presence in his country and the Middle East.

“The principles of coexistence and interfaith harmony are deeply embedded in Jordan’s heritage,” he said. “Our country is home to a historic Christian community. All our citizens actively share in building our strong nation. Indeed, Christians have been part of Middle East societies for thousands of years and are vital to the future of our region.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CRUX 

 

Pope Francis visits Morocco to highlight Christian-Muslim ties

MOROCCO-VATICAN-POPE-RELIGIONRabat, Morocco — Pope Francis landed in Morocco Saturday for a trip aimed at highlighting the North African nation’s Christian-Muslim ties, while also showing solidarity with migrants at Europe’s door and tending to a tiny Catholic flock.

“Dear Moroccan friends, I am coming as a pilgrim of peace and fraternity,” Francis wrote Friday on Twitter. “We Christians and Muslims believe in God, the Creator and the Merciful, who created people to live like brothers and sisters, respecting each other in their diversity, and helping one another in their needs.”

The highlight of the trip is likely to be Francis’ visit Saturday to the Mohammed VI Institute, a school of learning for imams that epitomizes Morocco’s efforts to promote a moderate brand of Islam and export it via preachers to Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

Francis will also visit a migrant center run by the Caritas charity organization and will wrap up his trip Sunday with a Mass and a meeting with Moroccan clergy.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CBS NEWS