The pastor since 1944

Just came across this: Monsignor Heliodore Mejak died on Christmas Day after pastoring the same Kansas City church for 63 years.

63 years.

At 98, he may have been the country’s oldest active Catholic priest.

And you have to wonder if he was the longest serving pastor in the world…

I guess there’s no one at Holy Family Church who remembers what it’s like to break in a new pastor.

The Kansas City Star’s article about him is “here.”:http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/story/422280.html

Christian, Muslim leaders to sit and chat

Two days before Christmas, I spoke up at Graymoor about the significance of a letter from 138 Muslim leaders to the Christian world, asking for a new dialogue.

I said that if the letter was to mean anything, it needed to be followed up quickly. It can’t take years (or, worse, some kind of tragedy) for Muslims and Christian leaders to actually sit down and talk.

Well, the Vatican said today that Christian and Muslim leaders plan to meet in Rome this spring to begin an “historic” dialogue. So here we go.

Here’s the AP’s Nicole Winfield, hot off the wires:

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Catholic and Muslim representatives plan to meet in Rome in the spring to start a “historic� dialogue between the faiths after relations were soured by Pope Benedict XVI’s 2006 comments about Islam and holy war, Vatican officials said.
Benedict proposed the encounter as part of his official response to an open letter sent to him and other Christian leaders in October by 138 Muslim scholars from around the world. The letter urged Christians and Muslims to develop their common ground of belief in one God.
Three representatives of the Muslim scholars will come to Rome in February or March to prepare for the meeting, the head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, told the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano this weekend.
He did not give a date for the larger meeting, except to say it would take place in the spring.
The agenda, he said, would cover three main topics: respect for the dignity of each person, interreligious dialogue based on reciprocal understanding, and instruction of tolerance among the young.
“The meeting with a delegation of some of the 138 Muslims, planned for Rome next spring, is in a certain sense historic,� Tauran was quoted by L’Osservatore as saying. Continue reading

Predicting the Iowa analyses

I’m back. Happy New Year to all.

Here’s hoping that the college football team you root for is not Arkansas or Hawaii (or Florida, for that matter).

I’m in the kind of haze you find yourself in after going through hundreds of emails at breakneck speed. There should be a name for it.

Plenty of emails weighing in on tomorrow’s Iowa caucuses. On the “Republican side,”:http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080101/NEWS09/301010014/-1/iowapoll07 you have to figure that religion will play a significant role in all the post-caucus analyses.

If Mike Huckabee pulls through and takes it, the experts will cite his Southern Baptist credentials and his eagerness to talk religion. Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith will been seen as an obstacle he could not overcome with Iowa’s evangelicals.

But if Romney holds on and takes it, the pundits will conclude — I think — that Iowa’s evangelicals are a bit more pluralistic than expected.

I don’t see religion playing as much of a role in the Democratic wrap-ups, unless the exit polls show something interesting.

Anyway, the first few months of 2008 promise to be pope-heavy ones for me. The papal visit is only a few short months away and there’s a lot of advance work to be done for a religion scribe such as myself. I’ll be blogging about it plenty in the weeks to come.