Tim Drake is an award-winning writer and former journalist and radio host with the National Catholic Register/EWTN. He currently serves as New Evangelization Coordinator for the Holdingford Area Catholic Community in the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota. He resides with his wife and five children in St. Joseph, Minn.
The Ground Zero mosque controversy continues unabated. With the President defending the New York mosque and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying that critics of the mosque should be investigated (ironic, given that no one is investigating where the funding for the mosque is coming from), the project has become completely politicized.
9-11 families (see the ad above), and numerous commentators, politicians, and religious leaders have all offered their opinions. Now, New York’s Archbishop has entered the fray.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan says that he supports religious freedom and the right of Muslims to build a mosque, but he questions whether one should be built so near Ground Zero.
Archbishop Dolan said that it was his prayer that a compromise could be reached and offered his assistance as a mediator between those who want to build the mosque and those who are critical of the decision.
Speaking at a news conference yesterday at Covenant House, Dolan provided the example of Pope John Paul II, who in 1993 asked Catholic nuns to relocate their convent at Auschwitz following protests by Jewish leaders.
“He’s the one who said, ‘Let’s keep the idea, and maybe move the address,’ ” said Archbishop Dolan. “It worked there; might work here.”
One thing is for certain. The issue is a contentious one. A recent poll by Siena College showed that 63 percent of New York State voters oppose the Mosque.
Do Muslims have the right to build the mosque? Most certainly. Religious freedom is one of the things that makes America great. It’s one of the things that differentiates America from a country like Saudi Arabia. We, as practicing Catholics, ought to always and everywhere defend religious freedom, or soon we’ll find ourselves unable to build Churches or Cathedrals where we want them.
However, just because the developers have the right to build, does that mean they should? That’s another question entirely.
The reaction of so many 9-11 families, and even moderate Muslims opposed to the project, is enough to convince me that there are probably better places in Manhattan for the mosque. Based upon the widespread opposition to the project, developers might want to consider that the idea of a mosque so near Ground Zero is considered by many to be both insensitive and a provocation.
For the sake of Muslim-American relations, move the mosque.