Pope Francis gives historic 1st Mass in the birthplace of Islam

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Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates — Pope Francis ministered on Tuesday to the thriving Catholic community in the United Arab Emirates as he concluded his historic visit to the Arabian Peninsula with the first-ever papal Mass here and a call for his flock to remain meek in following God. A day after making a broad appeal for Christian and Muslim leaders to work together to promote peace and reject war, Francis celebrated what some considered the largest show of public Christian worship on the peninsula, the birthplace of Islam.

Cheers erupted inside and outside the Zayed Sports City Stadium as Francis arrived and looped through the crowd in his open-sided popemobile, as chants of “Viva il Papa” and “We love you!” echoed from the crowd, estimated to be around 135,000.

Organizers said faithful from 100 countries would attend, as well as 4,000 Muslims from this Muslim federation — evidence of the enormous diversity among the 9 million people who live in the UAE.

“We have to say it is really a big event for us which we never expected,” said Sumitha Pinto, and Indian native who has lived in the UAE for nearly 20 years. She attended the Mass with her husband and four sons, the youngest of whom held up sign with the pope’s photo that read: “Welcome Pope Francis. Make Me a Channel of Your Peace.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CBS NEWS 

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UAE Muslims prepare warm welcome for Pope


20170921T1318-11715-CNS-POPE-MUSLIM_800-690x450‘This is without doubt a historic visit, as a Pope has never been to the Arab Peninsula before and until recently this was considered unthinkable’

Bishop Paul Hinder, Vicar Apostolic of Southern Arabia, has said the Pope’s coming visit to United Arab Emirates next month is being warmly anticipated by Muslims as well as Christians.

Francis would be paying a visit to the “ very heart of Islam” so to speak, Hinder said in a long interview in the January issue of Alle Welt, the quarterly magazine of the Austrian branch of the Pontifical Mission Societies, or Missio.

The Pope’s visit to a mosque and the interreligious dimension of the visit could be compared to St Francis of Assisi’s visit to the Egyptian Sultan 800 years ago, Hinder said. “St Francis reached out to the Sultan across entrenched fronts at the time, which led to a friendly visit. I think Pope Francis is going to set a sign, namely that we must build bridges even if we do not believe in the same things”, he added. Such encounters and setting such signs were most important as far as the Muslim world was concerned, “as Muslims react very positively to them”.

“This is without doubt a historic visit, as a Pope has never been to the Arab Peninsula before and until recently this was considered unthinkable,” Hinder recalled. Francis was, moreover, coming in the year when the Catholic Church was celebrating the 800th anniversary of the meeting between St Francis of Assisi and Sultan Malik al-Kamil at Damietta in Egypt in the year 1219.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE TABLET (UK)

Interfaith dialogue really is relational, accessible

There 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 Press
$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 NCRONLINE.COM

Catholic College in Detroit is Offering Classes to an All-Muslim Group

3a507f4ccb3aa3e94a93Steve Mustapha Elturk is getting his Master of Arts in Social Justiceat Marygrove College, a small Catholic liberal arts school located in Detroit. During a class break, he walks down a hallway to a sparse room with a chalk board on the wall.

This is an interfaith prayer room at Marygrove College,” says Elturk. “We have rugs in the basket for those who would like to pray during our times of prayer.”

As a practicing Muslim, Elturk prays five times a day. A few years back, the college converted the room to offer a space for everyone to pray, but particularly to accommodate its growing Muslim student population. Not long after that, Marygrove created a special social justice cohort exclusively for Muslim students like Elturk.

Even at a Catholic college, there you go!” says Dr. Brenda Bryant, chair of Marygrove’s Social Justice Program.  Bryant says the master’s program trains “scholar activists.” It was started after the September 11th attacks. This is the first time the school has had an all Muslim cohort.

WDET/LAURA HERBERG

The group is diverse. It’s made up of students who have been living in and around Detroit, but who originally came from the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Europe. They have professional backgrounds in media, art, education and more. Some are Sunni, some are “Shia.”

The idea for the program came from, Achmat Salie, a local Islamic faith leader who thought the program would be popular with Muslims who held high-level degrees from foreign countries that are sometimes less valued in the U.S. Bryant says the college was on board from the start. But she says some community members were a little confused as to why the group was segregated.

FULL ARTICLE FROM WDET

Priest thanks Muslims for aiding flood victims at his church in Kerala

TOPSHOT-INDIA-WEATHER-FLOODAmid flooding which has displaced a million people, Muslims brought food, water and medicine to those sheltering in Fr Puthussery’s church

A Catholic priest in India spoke to a Muslim congregation on Friday to thank them for bringing food, water, and medicines for the more than 500 people who sought shelter in his church amid devastating flooding in Kerala in recent weeks.

Severe rains led to flash floods and landslides in Kerala in recent months, with some 400 people killed and more than 1 million displaced from their homes.

Press Trust of India reported that more than 580 people took refuge at Fr. Sanu Puthussery’s St. Antony’s parish in Achinakom, and the church soon ran out of food and water.

“I straightaway went to the Masjid, apprised the maulvi about our difficulty and requested his help. After the day’s prayers, Muslim brothers came to the church with a large quantity of food and water,” Fr. Puthussery told PTI.

“Pope Francis had said build bridges, not walls. The devastating floods has now given us an opportunity to destroy the walls and build the bridges of togetherness,” Fr. Puthussery told the 250 Muslims Aug. 31 at the Juma Masjid in Vechoor, about 15 miles northwest of Kottayam, during Friday prayers.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CATHOLIC HERALD 

In central Africa, a cathedral shelters Muslims amid sectarian violence

St_peters_church_likoma_island_malawiBANGUI, Central African Republic (RNS) — Hundreds of Muslims are trapped on the grounds of a Roman Catholic cathedral in the southern city of Bangassou, unable to leave the compound for fear of being attacked by a Christian militia.

Muslims have been attacked and murdered in the area around Bangassou, a small market city on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as a nearly five-year-old civil war between the Christian majority and Muslims has divided the southeastern part of the country.

In July, a self-styled Church Defense Group for Christians called on all Christians in the country to carry out revenge attacks on Muslims for killing Christians.

The leader of the group, François Nzapakéyé, said “priests and pastors are systematically assassinated.” He cited Father Paul Emile Nzalé, murdered in an attack by 200 armed men in May at Notre Dame of Fatima in the capital, Bangui.

“We will avenge the killings of the many church leaders and men of God, killed in the exercise of their functions. Muslims or Christians, we shall see,” Nzapakéyé said in his communique to followers.

Yet in Bangassou, St. Peter Claver Cathedral has opened its doors to some 2,000 Muslims. And three hours east, hundreds of students and residents have taken refuge in a local parish in Zemio. In both places, Muslims and their protectors live in constant fear of attack amid threats from Christian militia.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS 

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

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.

There is a particular urgency for Catholics to become participants in dialogue with Muslims who are being attacked for their faith in the U.S. and abroad. Duffner succinctly explains how very real and damaging anti-Muslim prejudices in the U.S. are, noting, “In recent years, people have broken into mosques and ripped up Qur’ans, spray-painted vulgar language on the exterior of buildings, shot bullets into signs, and left pig heads, bacon and even feces on the property.” These acts are accompanied by threats of other violence, arson attacks on mosques and even murder.

What has the Catholic response been to these evils? Unfortunately, dialogue and solidarity with our Muslim siblings is largely absent, despite being a mandate of discipleship. A report from The Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University, which researches Islamophobia, found 70 percent of U.S. Catholics do not know a Muslim personally and just 14 percent have a favorable view of Islam. Few Catholics grasp what the magisterium actually teaches about Islam and about interfaith dialogue generally. As Islamophobia soars in the U.S., the people of God remain collectively silent.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER