Archbishop Joins Peace Vigil at Michigan Mosque

DEARBORN, Mich. (CNS) — Saying he came as a “voice of peace,” Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron joined hundreds of religious leaders at a Holy Thursday vigil outside an Islamic center to condemn intolerance and hatred toward Muslims.

The gathering at the Islamic Center of America in suburban Dearborn came a day before a planned Good Friday protest by two Florida pastors who threatened to burn a copy of the Quran outside of the center.

The protest never transpired as the pastors, the Revs. Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp, were briefly jailed for refusing to post a $1 bond after a daylong trial April 22 in a Wayne County courtroom. The trial resulted from efforts by prosecutors to seek a $45,000 “peace bond” from Rev. Jones in an attempt to prevent the pastor from disrupting the peace during the demonstration.

Archbishop Vigneron said church teaching requires Catholics to respect people of other faiths.

“My presence here today at the Islamic Center of America is but a small token of the local Catholic Christian community’s support for you at a difficult time,” Archbishop Vigneron said to Muslims and members of various religions. “When some voices choose to promote intolerance, and even hatred, I come as a voice of peace.”

He cited the Second Vatican Council in explaining the church’s relationship with the Muslim community. Quoting from the council document “Nostra Aetate” on relations with other religions, the archbishop said that it is a requirement that “a sincere effort be made to achieve mutual understanding; for the benefit of all men, let them together preserve and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values.”

“We have an opportunity to show the nation and the world that it is possible for peoples of many different faiths to respect one another and to foster mutual understanding,” Archbishop Vigneron said, drawing applause.

The event’s host, Imam Sayed Hassan Al Qazwini, thanked the Christian and Jewish leaders for being present. He said a proposed plan for an “extremist” to burn a Quran was not just an insult to Islam, but “an insult to all monotheistic religions” because the Quran contains praise of Moses and Christ, as well.

“I would like particularly to thank our non-Muslim brothers and sisters who came to the Islamic center to show solidarity and unity with the Muslim community,” the imam added.

The ministers were released from jail after paying the bond several hours after the trial. The court also ordered them to stay away from the mosque and adjacent property for three years.

The pastors said they planned to file suit against Wayne County officials, claiming their First Amendment rights to peacefully protest and express their views were violated.

Rev. Jones first burned a copy of the Quran March 20. In response, about 1,000 angry Muslims attacked a United Nations compound in Mazar–e Sharif, Afghanistan, killing seven people.

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