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’s visit to Morocco shows ‘Christians and Muslims are not enemies’

43b6c558c31947dcdf04ef46ce5a3693-690x450Pope Francis, hand in hand with two children, leaves the Basilica of Our Lady of Loreto where, during a one-day visit, he celebrated Mass and prayed in the shrine containing a small house traditionally venerated as the house of Mary, and believed to have been miraculously transplanted from the Holy Land inside the Basilica, in central Italy, Monday, March 25, 2019. The pope chose Loreto to sign the Post-Synodal Exhortation of last October’s Synod of Bishops. (Credit: AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis.)

ROME – Even though Abdellah Redouane has spent the past 20 years of his life as the director of the Islamic Cultural Center of Italy, the Morocco-born man can’t disguise his hope for the upcoming March 30-31 papal visit to his homeland.

“This is not just a regular visit,” Redouane told Crux on Tuesday. “I believe it’s particularly important because 99 percent of the population in Morocco is Muslim. Inviting the pope, who is the leader of the Catholic religion, is something important, and we must thank those who worked to organize this visit.”

He believes that the papal visit can help build bridges between Muslims and Christians in Morocco, a country where, he acknowledged that despite the legal protection for religious freedom, there are instances of religious-based violence.

Francis’s visit, he said, can help “by reminding us Christians and Muslims are not enemies, but people who can work together, showing the followers of the two religions that if the leaders meet, they embrace, why cannot we too do the same?”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CRUXNOW.COM

 

A Praying Body of Christians, Muslims Overcomes Tragedy in Morocco

By Carolina McCabe

Monastery-Catholic-church-Notre-Dame-AtlasRabat – Behind massive walls in Midelt, central Morocco, lies the small Catholic community of Notre Dame de L’Atlas. The walls enclose a large courtyard, a small chapel, and a memorial for the seven brothers of Tibhirine who were killed in Algeria.

The community, belonging to the Cistercian order, was originally from the Atlas Abbey of Tibhirine near Medea, Algeria. During the Algerian Civil War, seven monks from the order were kidnapped, held for two months, and found decapitated in May of 1996. The Algerian government announced later that month that the heads of the clergymen had been discovered.

Two monks, Father Jean-Pierre and Father Amedee, managed to escape the kidnapping and survived the deadly attack.

In 2010, a film about the tragedy, “Des Hommes et des Dieux” (Of Gods and Men), won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival.

The two surviving monks left Algeria and traveled to the current Notre Dame de l’Atlas monastery in Midelt, Morocco. The new order, which began in 2001, was formed by a community of monks who joined the two survivors of Tibhirine. Inside the compound, the monks work, pray, live, and welcome visitors. Father Amedee died in 2008, and Father Jean Pierre Schumacher is the only living survivor of the 1996 tragedy.

Read also: Rabat’s Cathedral: From a French Past to a Sub-Saharan Future

Living within the monastery are six brothers from France, Spain, Ireland, and Portugal. The brothers follow the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, also called Trappists, a Roman Catholic contemplative order dedicated to prayer.

Brother Anthony McNamara, a monk from Ireland, came to the monastery after recognizing the increasing anti-Muslim sentiment in the aftermath of ISIS killings. McNamara became invested in the Syrian crisis and learned about the devastation that Muslim people experience attributed to ISIS.

It was after McNamara saw powerful images and news stories about victims in Syria that he came to the realization that the violence was affecting everyone. “This brought home to me how we are all, Christian and Muslim, caught up in this terrible violence,” said McNamara. “We all believe in the same God, and here are these terrible murders being carried out in His name.”

As he celebrated midnight mass on Christmas Eve of 2015, McNamara decided to go to Notre Dame de L’Atlas to become a member of what he calls “a praying community amongst a praying community.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM MOROCCO WORLD NEWS 

Popes in the Middle East: Highlights of papal outreach in the region

.- Pope Francis is set to celebrate the first papal Mass on the Arabian peninsula next week during his Feb. 3-5 visit to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.

The pope’s Mass at the Zayed sports stadium on Feb. 5 is expected to draw at least 135,000 people. Many in attendance will be migrant workers from Asia residing in the UAE, a country in which 89 percent of the population are not citizens. It will not only be the first papal Mass on the peninsula, but the first public Mass in the country.

Since the Second Vatican Council there have been significant milestones in Muslim-Catholic relations in the region. Here is a look at some of the highlights:

First pope on a plane

The first time a pope ever traveled on a plane was on a trip to the Middle East. Saint Paul VI flew from Italy to Jordan in January 1964, making history as the first pope to leave Europe. Paul VI met with King Hussein in Amman before continuing his journey to Jerusalem.

First pope in a mosque

Saint John Paul II made history as the first pope to enter a mosque during his visit to Syria in May 2001. John Paul II went to Damascus’ Umayyad Mosque, which had been built in 715 on top of a fourth-century Christian cathedral said to contain the head of John the Baptist.

In March 2003, days before US President George W. Bush announced the official start of the Iraq war, St. John Paul II called for a worldwide fast for peace in the Middle East.

The Polish pontiff, known for his extensive papal travels during his 27-year pontificate, was also the first pope to visit several Middle Eastern nations, including Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY 

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)