Monsignor Patrick Halfpenny, pastor of St. Paul of the Lake Parish and school in Grosse Pointe Farms, described the “interfaith” trip of his schoolkids to the Islamic Center of America Mosque in Dearborn on Thursday as “providential.” Msgr. Halfpenny is also the archdiocesan ecumencial and interfaith adviser, which helps explain a lot. Something tells me what he had in mind by calling the mosque field trip “providential’ was that he felt Islam was, once again, due a big fat act of contrition because of what the Pope said. So what better way to do that than a spectacle of Catholic schoolgirls with heads covered sitting meekly beneath the teachings of the Prophet? You have to admit, it is a strong symbol. But what message is Msgr. Halpenny trying to send?
Though the trip had been planned since last spring, Msgr. Halfpenny, "as a man of faith," sees the field trip as providential for falling at the end of a week during which Catholics heard their Pope commanded to bow to a Muslim cleric and convert, ordered by Muslim religious leaders to be executed, saw a Catholic missionary sister in Somalia murdered by Islamists, saw Christian churches burned in Gaza, and heard Al Qaida declaring again the timeless Jihadist battle cry to break all the crosses and reduce the Christian West to slavery or death. In other words, it came when local Muslims were profoundly sensitive about an apology being badly overdue—that is, an apology due to them.
So the kids visited the mosque and got to hear about Muslim interpretations of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, and “heard Muslims disparaging those who commit violence in the name of Islam.” (But not, mind you an apology for the violence. Muslim activist Najah Bazzy, a person describing herself as “embarrassed to be an American,” told the schoolchildren those violent Muslims doing all that killing are just a few people “hijacking the faith…And I do not apologize for them, because I do not associate myself with them.” It isn’t exactly accurate she's not associated with them, but either way, they associate themselves with Najah by means of a common devotion to behaviors prescribed in the Koran. The main lesson to Catholic kids: Muslims never have to apologize.
The very thing in Monsignor’s mind that made the timing of this trip such a blessed event was how easily it could be adapted into a gesture whereby the local Church and the Church's schoolchildren could express their need for pardon from a religion that sees itself as intrinsically superior to the Catholic faith, and strictly forbids any suggestion that it is ever wrong about anything. "I don't know that it smooths over controversies," says the Monsignor of the successful field trip, "but it demonstrates...our relationships are not going to be misdirected or derailed by a single incident of misunderstanding." You betcha. In other words, pay no attention to that man in Peter's chair, because our agenda is still on track, i.e., we're still going to keep coming back to you Imams with our red hats in our hands--and all just for the sake of protecting our fantasy dialogue with you.
But all the horrible behavior of Muslims towards the Pope, the Church, and the West were the very reason why this school trip should have been canceled, or at least postponed.
My Dear Monsignor, we know what you think about Vatican II, but Catholics aren’t the only ones who need to stop and reflect and apologize; Muslims do, too. But no one ever insists they do that. That is, until Benedict finally did, last week. And this is how the Archdiocese responds?
To think that even while unretracted threats of murder, war, and execution hang over the Pope and the Christian West, a Catholic seventh-grader is trotted into a mosque, where she is asked to hide her hair in deference to the Islamic Prophet's malevolence towards women, is then told lies about Islam, and finally goes home to tell her parents, “I think it’s very cool.” The photo above , and the other one in the Detroit News article in which all the females, including someone I expect is the St. Paul teacher, obediently covered up, should be speaking volumes to the Archdiocese about the effectiveness of this interfaith "dialogue" it's trying so hard to protect.
Besides, whatever you guys think your duty is to ecumenism, isn't it your main responsibility to be teaching these children the True Faith?