Sunday, May 10, 2020
Not good news. . .
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW), joined in the Iftar ritual breaking of the Ramadan fast at sunset on Wednesday, for the fourth year in a row.Because of the Wuhan virus pandemic, Nichols, who hosted a Ramadan Iftar meal at Archbishop's House in 2017, was forced to partake in the Islamic ritual meal at home while joining Muslim, Protestant and Jewish leaders in an online celebration.
While I certainly do not favor being impolite in our conversations with Muslims, I fail to see what is to be gained by any Christian observance of an Islamic holiday. In fact, it is not simply unseemly but scandalous that a Christian leader and a Roman Catholic Bishop and a Cardinal at that, would observe any part of Ramadan. Furthermore, it is even more shocking that Protestant and Jewish leaders would have joined in such celebration in the past or, in the case of this year, online. Would we expect Muslims to watch during Advent or kneel at the Manger at Christmas or worship at the cross at Lent or join in the Easter Alleluias? Would we presume that they would observe at home some form of the family side of these particular Christian holy days?
I would be offended if any Muslim would treat Christian holy days as some sort of meaningless ritual that could be observed without faith. I would expect Muslims to be equally offended by Christians observing what is alone an Islamic ritual. Such play acting does not further any real ecumenism and, if it is not play acting, then it is something far more nefarious and worthy of the worst condemnation. Maybe those who think spiritual but not religious and who display their coexist bumper stickers under the banner of no real truth could get away with it, but why a Roman Catholic Cardinal or any other Christian religious leaders?
It would seem to me that such foolishness would be eschewed by both sides -- those who hold their rituals sacred and those who wish not to offend. It would be best if we took each other seriously but did not stoop to play acting when it comes to our sacred holidays and piety. Frankly, I cannot imagine who sat down and thought about this and decided this was a good idea.