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September 11th

Today is the ninth anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.  There are many memorial services happening today to honor those who lost their lives in those terrible attacks.  We also pray for their loved ones, asking the Lord to strengthen and comfort them.

There has also been much controversy this week centered on a Christian minister who was going to burn copies of the Quran today.  Fortunately, he has decided against burning the Quran today or ever.

Now, normally I do not like writing about controversial items here but I believe I need to comment on this issue.  Certainly, the Catholic Church has been commenting on it.  Here are some links

Are there Muslim extremists who burn Christian Bibles?  Yes.

Are there Muslim extremists who were responsible for the 9-11 attacks?  Yes.

Are there Muslim extremists committing acts of terrorism today?  Yes.

That does not make every Muslim a bad person.  In writing this today, I make no judgment on Islam.  I will leave the judgment to God (“He did indeed denounce the unbelief of his listeners but left vengeance to God until the day of judgment.” Second Vatican Council, “Dignitatis Humanae (Declaration on Religious Liberty)” December 7, 1965, paragraph 11).

But I fail to see how burning Qurans would help the situation.  Some say it is free speech.  Some might say, “they burn Christian Bibles, so we will burn Qurans.”  To mean that makes it an act of revenge rather than justice. 

Some will say in response, “Well, the Bible says an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.”  Yes, it does.  You can find it in Exodus 21:24.  But have you read Matthew 5:38-48?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.  If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well.  Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.  Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.   For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?   So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Someone has to be the first to do the right thing.

Turning to the question of freedom of religion, as Catholics we should be mindful of the history of how Catholics were received in America, which was originally largely a Protestant country (For some of this history see a paper I wrote “Bishop McQuaid and Archbishop Ireland:  School Controversy or Otherwise?).  Catholics worked hard for religious freedom.  If we want freedom of religion for ourselves, we must respect religious freedom of others.  It does NOT mean we agree with them or support them in anyway.  It means we respect their rights as human beings.  Pope John XXIII wrote in paragraph 14 of Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth)

This too must be listed among the rights of a human being, to honor God according to the sincere dictates of his own conscience, and therefore the right to practice his religion privately and publicly (cf. Vatican II, “Dignitatis Humanae (Declaration on Religious Liberty).” Decemember 7, 1965 paragraph 2-3).

I hope this helps.  Remember, I am not making any judgment on Islam.  However, I do not see burning Qurans as anything that helps the situation in any way.  Rather than fight, pray for those involved.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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