Friday, April 07, 2006

A Muslim visits the Vatican

Interesting story from Inside Bay Area ... member of a delegation who visited the consistory that elevated Archbishop Levada to the College of Cardinals. He has some questions though:
But one member of our group, who wished to remain anonymous, expressed concerns that Pope Benedict, in contrast to his predecessor, has not shown any sign of reaching out across faiths. I optimistically responded that "Maybe he will change in time," but then I heard something else that made my heart sink: Pope Benedict has said that Muslim Turkey has no place in Christian Europe.

As I numbly noted that I have never heard a Vatican official say "Istanbul" — it is always "Constantinople" — my companion brought up another controversial rumor: Pope Benedict has said he wants the church to think about Christianizing India, my native country.

If these statements are true, my peace-building between religions is going to be rough. As a Muslim interfaith leader, I need to find out what the Vatican really wants and how we can resolve these thorny issues with love, compassion and forgiveness. I hope this pope and his cardinals will follow Jesus' famous saying, "Do not judge others, lest you be judged." This motto holds more wisdom now then ever before.
And, I guess, it does for the speaker as well! :-) Well, perhaps it might behoove him to learn a little more, from the proper sources about what exactly the Pope said, and what that actually means. Admission of Turkey to the EU, [and, well, wasn't Constantinople it's original name, for nigh a millenium? :-)] and the church's essential mission of evangelization are such disparate areas of discourse ...

However, it is also a reminder of just how scary the word "evangelization" sounds to those outside. At least it seems to, in India, rightly or wrongly.

5 comments:

assiniboine said...

Vastly more than a millenium, doncha know! It only became Istanbul after the modern republic of Turkey was founded. And it's still Constantinople in Arabic!

But it's a little cute of Muslims to get so antsy about proselytism by Christians: as if they don't assertively seek to convert the rest of us to Islam! But we don't go there, obviously....

assiniboine said...

(Anyway, what's the big deal with Constantinople in English? It's Moscow, not Mockba; it's Munich, not Munchen; it's PARiss, not Paree; Rome, not Roma; Vienna, not Wien....)

assiniboine said...

(My own Muslim acquaintance who have visited the Vatican, not to speak of Turkey, come away not with any feelings of anxiety about Christian designs on the Muslim faithful but with a sore neck from craning at Baroque church ceilings and 5 kilos lighter from having RUN from one holy site and one archeological dig to another! Just as I have done at, say, Mohenjo Daro and Muslim pilgrimage sites. Really, some people need to get a life!

assiniboine said...

Speaking of Muslims at the Vatican --

My Gujarati Muslim friends Shabbir and Fatema have at length successfully prevailed on me to take them to church so I am rounding up a bit of a party for the Easter Vigil.

Fatema is delighted and does seem to have some sort of clue. (She may be mildly disappointed if she has gone to an Oriental Orthodox Qurbana in Bombay, where the incense and Old Syriac chanting and liturgical poncing about is taken to truly Oriental excess.) But her husband Shabbir appears to think it's going to be another concert of "opera music" like the last time I took him...to a concert of my daughter's Lutheran school choir at the RC cathedral....There was an orchestra and it was Xmas so there were congregational hymns: nothing out of the ordinary -- "Hark the herald," "O come all ye faithful," like that...

I also took along two Papua New Guineans (good staunch Methodists), a Zulu who had been an Anglican Cathedral organist in South Africa and my redoubtably Anglican Tamil friend Sam: they of course stood and belted their lungs out during the Christmas hymns.

Shabbir thoroughly enjoyed it but he was seriously perplexed: "How did those black fellows and Sam know all that opera music?!"

(So much for the perception that western culture has inundated the world.)

I shall of course take photos -- only before and after! I rather enjoy the prospect of exiting the church at the end of it all and introducing our party: "Happy Easter, Father. This is Sue, she's Jewish; this is Fatema, she is a Bohri Muslim; this is her husband Shabbir, he is also a Bohri Muslim; this is Vaibhav, he is Hindu; this is his brother Vipul, also Hindu; and this is Sam...he is...well, nothing very interesting, I'm afraid, after all those exotics. He is [da-thunk] -- an Indian Anglican." I must also try and round up my cleaner Roland, who is a New Guinea Islands Bahai!

Gashwin said...

Maybe, let's be generous here, he was quoted "out of context." Just maybe. And you're right about Muslim "pushiness." Don't know why I didn't even think of that last night. It was late.

As to the religious menagerie that is accompanying you to the Easter Vigil. I await the email report! :-) Is this to an Anglican or to an RC church?

And a reminder that this time, with the extended stay in India, I simply must get to a Qurbana in Bombay ...