Am I wrong to be scandalized here? If so, can someone explain this to me?


Tonight something odd happened. We celebrated a “Spirit of Assisi” thing at my local parish, which is run by the Franciscans. It was an interfaith event that the priest was really excited about, so I decided to give it a try. What happened next really scandalized me, and I want to know if I’m the one in the wrong here. After the priest welcomed everyone, he invited the speaker, a Muslim professor at the local university, to come up and speak from the pulpit, right next to the alter and the tabernacle (which had Jesus in it). The speaker spent 20 minutes quoting the Koran and Muhammad and talking about climate change. Then, after she sat down a local imam was invited up and chanted a big passage of the Koran in Arabic. We then did a few Catholic (but not too Catholic) songs and left.

Am I wrong in thinking that this isn’t ok? I get that interfaith events can be hit and miss, but this wasn’t just given in our big meeting area - It was in our church. Nobody bowed or genuflected before the Eucharist, or blessed themselves when they entered. It’s like the tabernacle was just another decoration. The Koran was read and sung from the same pulpit that the priest reads the Gospel. I thought that whole area around the alter (where you have to take a couple steps up) is special and reserved for the liturgy. Being a convert, I’m not 100% sure what the rules are like with things like that, but it sure feels wrong in my gut. Has anyone experienced something like this before?


The Eucharist should have been removed from the Tabernacle. Now, I will say this… just because the candle was lit doesn’t mean that the Tabernacle wasn’t empty. Some priests incorrectly think the candle is supposed to represent that the Eucharist is present in the Church (I’ve heard an older priest say this). I think this might be a result of when the Tabernacle used to be all over the place after Vatican II.

Also, another time, I’ve seen a side Chapel being used for Priests to store their gear, with the Chapel Tabernacle empty and even open, but the candle still lit.

So, it is possible that your priest removed the Blessed Sacrament, but he (or a lay volunteer) didn’t blow out the candle.

Now, if the Blessed Sacrament was present in the Tabernacle, I would be upset too. If you are still bothered, please speak with your pastor about this and ask him.

I hope this helps.


That was a bit much! I too would have wondered what on earth was going on.
Imagine going to a Catholic function and coming back with an ear full of quotes from the Koran! It is a wonder no one walked away in protest.:sad_yes:


I am sure that your pastor had good intentions here. Many Christians are desperate to encourage moderate Islam. That does not mean that this interfaith service was a good idea. In particular, allowing Muslim prayers in Arabic in a Church is very problematic unless a competent translator is present to understand what is being said. Perhaps discuss this with your pastor and bishop.


When a church is used for aliturgical purposes, even it it be a “faith experience” type of thing such as an “inter-faith” gathering, a concert, a lecture, or any other reason, the tabernacle should always be empty and the Sacrament reserved elsewhere (usually the sacristy) for the duration. Further, when the tabernacle is empty, the doors should be open and the vigil lamp should not be lit, as is the case after the Sacrament is reposed on Holy Thursday. It’s true that occasionally the vigil lamp is lit when the tabernacle is empty, but that’s a matter of human error and means someone forgot to extinguish it. Proper etiquette also calls for the altar itself to be covered with a “dust jacket” (I’ve forgotten the specific name, but it was very often a green felt cloth) on such occasions, but unfortunately that’s rarely done these days.


Terrible. Absolutely terrible.


No. You are not wrong. Scandalous.
You should at least take comfort in the fact that your catholic sense is still active.


I think the key word here is interfaith event. If the participants were all of the faith of Jesus Christ, I would see no problem. This sounds less like interfaith and more like political correctness to me. I would be upset also with this. To your point on the Altar, Lector, and especially the Tabernacle, empty or not their are always traces of Our Lord in the Tabernacle. I would agree with your position.


Thanks for the replies everyone. It makes me feel better that I wasn’t wrong to think that this wasn’t entirely “kosher”.


The Church encourages inter-religious dialogue and in fact has Pontifical Council for Inter-religious dialogue. It is not “political correctness”. There are Muslims that teach at the Vatican.

There are Benedictine monks in Africa that teach the Koran to illiterate Muslim children because their parents cannot as they’re also illiterate.

St. Francis himself dialogued with Muslims.

I can’t say I’m scandalized here, and unless the non-Christians were publicly desecrating the Eucharist or actively proselytizing in the Church, I’m not sure I see a scandal with the tabernacle being occupied by Our Lord. Peaceful dialogue is one of the missions He entrusted us with through His Church which has seen fit to promote such dialogue and He certainly consorted with people of many backgrounds during His time with us.

Muslims aren’t martians… they are God’s children just as we are, why would Jesus be scandalized with being in their presence? It would very much surprise me if the Muslim speaker acted disrespectfully at such an event.


This occasion wasn’t an “entertainment” e.g., a concert or play. It was an interfaith outreach, and it strikes me that Jesus needs to be Truly Present (not just present in Christians) whenever there are those present who believe in other faiths. He can “woo them” to Himself–His True Presence is a witness to the truth of the Christian Gospel

As for what the various speakers said–it’s possible that they were given guidelines about their talk, but they chose to ignore those guidelines and get political (“climate change”–ooh, boy!). In that case, those who were in charge of the service chose to allow them to continue speaking in the name of charity and courtesy.

This happened a few years back at the annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service in our city (I play piano for this event). All of the representatives from the various faiths (including Catholic, liberal Protestant (the Evangelicals and Mormons will have nothing to do with this event), Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Eckankar, B’hai, pagan, spiritualists, Native Americans, etc.) are supposed to present a “prayer of Thanksgiving from their faith heritage.” It’s only supposed to last about one minute, since there are quite a few representatives.

The Native American representative chose to rant for 20 minutes about all the injustices done to his people by the white people who stole their land and tortured their people.

It was very offensive to many of us, but no one stopped him out of courtesy.

A few weeks later, I called the Interfaith Council and asked them to please prevent this sort of thing from happening again. I told them that it was offensive and unfair because none of us were able to refute him in that setting. It was also rude to all the other representatives who obeyed the “rules” and only presented a prayer, not an apologetic discourse.

The Interfaith Council agreed with me, and since then, the event has been limited to short prayers, not presentations or evangelization.

Interestingly, the year following the Native American rant, the Muslims did NOT sent a representative. I think they were even more offended than I was!

My point is, the people who spoke at your parish event may have been given guidelines, and the representative rudely chose to ignore them and say what he wanted to say. So don’t judge the event by one bad apple.

Anyway, I think Jesus’ Presence is powerful and convicting, and that He needed to be present when other false religions were present.


I think at a time when Muslims are beheading Christians at a rate never seen before in history, even in the great periods of martyrdom. The Church, built by St. Peter and St. Paul is not the place to do it. Use the Parrish Hall.

This event was advertised as inter faith, not inter religious.I’m not saying don’t talk to Muslims, I’m saying the Church is not the place to have them preaching from the Koran , which is contrary to the teachings of Jesus. Talking to Muslims is one thing, preaching the word of Islam from the pulpit of the Church is another.

Please site your source of where the Benedictine Monks teach the Koran. To me this would be problematic. The post was not that they talk to Muslims, it is where the dialogue toke place. One final question for you, where in the Vatican are Muslims teaching?


Some radical Muslims. It is patently unfair to tar all Muslims with the same brush just because of the acts of a minority of radicals, just as it isn’t fair to judge all Christians or Jews for past or present violence that may occur in their name.

We are called to be artisans of peace, and that means outreach to reasonable Muslims, which in my experience is the vast majority in this country (I’ve worked with several Muslims over the years and they’ve all been decent, law-abiding people).


Please read all of my post before responding.


I did and I still don’t see what the acts of radical Muslims have to do with where we welcome normal Muslims during inter-faith events.

They’re either welcome or they’re not. They’re not second-class citizens. I believe in welcoming others with open hearts and open doors. It’s part of the Benedictine charism of hospitality, and of being artisans of peace.

It’s like inviting someone to your home. You don’t say to some friends “you can only come in the kitchen, but not the living room”, and to others “come into the living room”.


As there are differing faiths of Christianity there are also differing faiths of Islam. That does not change the fact the Catholic Church is the Temple of Jesus Christ, not Islam. I have never heard of the Bible being read in a Mosgue. I respect all peaceful Muslim, I do not tar them all with the same sin. I also recognize that there are many who are very violent, that is fact not wishful thinking.


I can understand why this upset you and would me also. It is one thing to have an interfaith dialoque or even a prayer event with those of different faiths but it should be held somewhere other than the sanctuary. I fully agree with you.

IMHO the sanctuary is a holy place, Jesus’ house, and it is kind of like with them only singing a few Catholic hymns, maybe saying a few Catholic prayers and the majority being Muslim they were neglecting Christ in his own house.

I have been to events where there were other faiths along with Catholics and we were in prayer for something but it wasn’t in the sanctuary of the Catholic church.

God bless.


I think this is very wrong. If the subject of this event was St. Francis, why the need for Muslims?


I think you are confusing inter faith with inter religious. They are two completely separate entities. Judaism and Christianity are inter faith. Would you welcome paganism or atheism in the house of God? That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t talk to them and try to help them see Jesus in there life, but I would not let them spread there philosophy in the house of God either.

My kitchen and my living room are not my Church. they can come into my house anytime and I would discuss theology with them, but in the House of God I would only speak of Jesus. I would expect no less in their House of Worship.


There is no difference between “inter faith” and “inter-religious” dialogue.

No I would not allow paganism or atheism. But I would welcome pagans and atheists. Our abbey does so all the time. They even roam into the blessed sacrament chapel sometimes… is that so terrible? :shrug:

I would also not place paganism or atheism on the same plane as Islam. The latter is an abrahamic, monotheistic religion that started out from the same source as ours. That there was divergence and error later, there can be no doubt. But they do worship the same God as we do, albeit imperfectly.

Anyway I recuse myself from this debate. I’ve expressed my viewpoint (and more or less the Benedictine spiritual viewpoint of hospitality and peaceful dialogue as best I could). The ultimate authority on what’s allowed or not is the local ordinary. The only problem I would see was if the parish priest acted in disobedience of his bishop. And I’m certainly not going to be the error police. If something makes one uncomfortable, one is free to not attend similar events in the future.

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