NY’s mainline Protestant leaders support proposed downtown Islamic center

It’s taken a while, but New York’s mainline Protestant leaders have issued statements about the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero.

No great surprises here. The NY bishops of the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church all gently support the project, while acknowledging the pain still felt by so many.

I’ll paste their full statements below.

United Methodist Bishop Jeremiah Park declares his support for the project, writing that “denying the fundamental right of a religious community, as long as it fulfills the same legal requirements applied to all other religious communities, by singling it out for the wrong reasons, compromises the integrity of who we are at our core.”

He also writes: “Our hearts break over the sacrifice of the dead from 9/11 and the pains and sufferings of their loved ones and our country. However, to truly honor them, to truly preserve the historic significance of the Ground Zero, and to truly triumph over the evil force of 9/11, it is necessary to stand firm on what America believes in and be willing to pay whatever the price to protect and preserve freedom and equality for all.”

ELCA Bishop Robert Rimbo doesn’t offer the same outright pledge of support, but concludes with this: “There is much pain very near the surface of our emotions with regard to the tragic events of September 11, 2001. But how will preventing this center from being constructed help us to deal with that pain? There is great fear driving our lives today. How do persons of faith respond to that fear? We commend ourselves to the reliable and merciful arms of the God of Abraham, the God whom Jesus calls Abba, the God whom Muslims and Christians in various parts of the world call Allah. This God promises a reign in which all shall be well. Our faith is bigger and stronger than all our fears.”

Italics mine. Sure sounds like he is in favor getting beyond the fear and building the place.

Finally, Episcopal Bishop Mark Sisk, as I noted last week, wrote a public letter supporting the Islamic center. It includes this: “The plan to build this center is, without doubt, an emotionally highly-charged issue. But as a nation with tolerance and religious freedom at its very foundation, we must not let our emotions lead us into the error of persecuting or condemning an entire religion for the sins of its most misguided adherents.”

Of course, Archbishop Tim Dolan has offered to be a conciliatory voice, but has stopped short of taking a position. In a recent blog post, he wrote: “Although I have no strong sentiment about what should be decided about the eventual where of the Islamic Center, I do have strong convictions about how such a discussion should be reached: civilly and charitably.  The hot-heads on either side must not dominate.”

Here are the full UMC, ELCA and Episcopal Church statements… Continue reading

Catholic Archbishop Burke calls for pressure on fellow bishops, then recants (sort of)

This is plain weird.

Yesterday, Randall Terry, the longtime anti-abortion activist, held a news conference at the National Press Conference in Washington to share a videotaped interview he did with Archbishop Raymond Burke, formerly of St. Louis and now head of the Vatican supreme court in Rome.

In the videotape, Burke takes the very unusual step of urging pro-lifers to press U.S. bishops to withhold Communion from Catholic politicians who are pro-choice.

Burke seemed to be calling many of his fellow bishops on the carpet.

You can see a video of the interview HERE in two parts.

Today, National Catholic Reporter is saying that Burke has released a statement apologizing for his comments. So far, I can’t find the statement anywhere. ADD: HERE IT IS.

NCR says that Burke says that he only gave the interview to Terry “to share with pro-life workers.” Burke says that Terry’s use of the interview, as part of a media campaign to put pressure on bishops, is “objectionable.”

NCR says Burke’s statement includes this: “If I had known what the true purpose of the interview was, I would never have agreed to participate in it.”

What am I missing here? Is Burke saying that he wants people to put pressure on bishops to withhold Communion — but he doesn’t want the bishops know he takes this stand?

What is another way to interpret this?