How were you called to your current ministry/service? In college I was faced with the question, "What am I going to do with my life?"
The answer that first came back was: "Major in religion." Much to my dad's dismay, that's what I did. Ten years later I found myself with a Ph.D. in Islamic studies and teaching at Indiana University in Bloomington. Then, in 2000 I felt the hand of divine providence like I've never felt it before. I got a job in the Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union teaching Islam and reaching out in fellowship to Muslims.
"As unquestionably hate-filled and thus morally reprehensible as such language is, when Palestinians refer to Jews as 'descended from apes and swine' or encourage support for those who 'kill Jews,' they do so with the reasonably justifiable self-image of victim and persecuted, not of victimizer and persecutor."
Scott Alexander's considers Muslims suspected of terror as victims . In 2002 he wrote a letter he to President Bush protesting the anti terror measures taken against Islamists and their institutions..
Alexander's letter was published on the ISNA website of the Islamic Society of North America.
The president of the ISNA , Sayid Sayeed, is also on the advisory board of the Bernardin Center. The ISNA is presently one of many Muslim organisations under investigation by a Senate finance committee for ties to terrorist funding.
.Scott Alexander's letter was reprinted on both the ISNA and MuslimUzbekistan websites. The MU website has ties to Hizb ut Tahrir and Al Qaeda .
Scott Alexander implores President Bush "to prove to Americans and the rest of the world" that Muslims will be protected after 9/11. He attacks the FBI, advises law enforcement to consult with Muslims to thwart terrorism, and bashes terrorism expert Steven Emerson.
"A Letter to the President of (sic) USA On Muslim Civil Liberties"
"...The second reason I'm writing is to protest, in the strongest terms possible, the recent raids on the homes and offices of Muslim citizens and community leaders in Virginia and the D.C. area...
"My fear is that our government has taken the lead of a self-appointed and media-anointed "terrorist expert" like Steven Emerson who simply points his finger at each and every Muslim organization with any tie to Palestine, and declares them hornets' nests of terrorist activity. Does the FBI, for example, consult regularly with those key members of the Muslim community who can raise substantive (rather than rhetorical) objections to the observations of someone like Emerson? My sense is that it does not. Rather, it seems that in its dealings with the domestic Muslim community, federal law enforcement is operating on Emerson's McCarthy-like assumption of treachery rather than loyalty among the American Muslim community. "
"In the name of God, and in the name of all that is noble and good in our great nation, I respectfully implore you to take immediate and concrete steps to prove to all Americans--and the rest of the world--that the rights and dignity of the Muslim community in the U.S. will be afforded all the protection they legally and morally deserve. "
In 2002, the Bernadin Center allotted funds from a Lilly grant "Peacebuilders Initiative" to two known Hamas activists,. Azzam Tamimi, and Mustafa Abu Sway, a professor of Islamic studies from Al Quds University, to implement a student exchange program between Al Quds and the CTU.
Al Quds University in Jerusalem is known to be a center of terror activity. The school's president , Sari Nussibeh, went on Arab television together with Hamas leader Khalid Mischal, and praised the mother of a suicide bomber http://www.the-idler.com/IDLER-02/7-20a.html
In 2002 the CTU held it's second annual Christian Muslim Interfaith Conference
. Scott Alexander wrote this report which can be viewed in it's entirety on page 4 of the HTML below:
"The visit of Professor Mustafa Abu Sway as keynote speaker made for a stimulating contribution in deliberations but also marked the beginning of a proposed institutional relationship between the CTU and Al Quds University's Islamic Research Center (In sha' Allah) i.e. god willing. In the near future we will begin arranging for exchange study and research between the two institutions".
Through the contributions of Professor Sway, and Dr.Azzam Tamimi ,founding director of the International Institute of Islamic Political Thought in London, Islamic critiques and analyses of the development of secularism were introduced."
Scott C. Alexander (Ph.D Columbia, A.B. Harvard) is Associate Professor of Islam at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and director of the program in Catholic-Muslim studies at the school's Bernardin Center for Theology and Ministry. Alexander has written and produced a number of articles and videos. Alexander's interest in Islam dates back to the early1980s, when he was both witnessing the events of the Islamist revolution in Iran, and concentrating in comparative religion as an undergraduate at Harvard. He In addition to his extensive work with the Muslim community in Chicago and the U.S., Alexander also has first-hand experience with Muslim communities and cultures in the Middle East, and is currently working to expand the outreach of the Catholic-Muslim studies program to include international relations with the Center for Islamic Research at al-Quds University in Jerusalem. (Excerpted from http://www.aurora.edu/cfa/conf2002)
Link to Islamic studies department at Al Quds University
Al Quds University President Sari Nussibeh is officially "The PLO coordinator for Jerusalem"
Thursday, October 3, 2002 58 East 68th "Israelis and Palestinians at the Brink: New Thinking and New Initiatives for Peace" Speaker:Sari Nusseibeh President, Al-Quds University, PLO Commissioner for Jerusalem Presider:Barton Gellman National Correspondent, The Washington Post
The coordinating board of Al Quds included the Grand Mufti of Al Aqsa, Ekrima Sabri, who praised child suicide bombers and had this to say about interfaith :
'The younger the martyr, the greater and the more I respect him'...
" I am filled with rage at the Jews. I have never greeted a Jew when I came near one and I never will"
The Board of Trustees is the highest authority in the university, and oversees all its affairs.
While the university's bylaws were being formalized in the early 1990s, the university was overseen by a coordinating board, which represented the governing boards of the four founding colleges. The Coordinating Board consisted of the following members: Sheikh Sa'ad Eddin Alami (Chair until 1993), Mr. Mohammad Nusseibeh (Chair until 1997), Sheikh Abdul Azim Salhab, Mr. Adnan Husseini, Dr. Ahmad Zeiter, Sheikh Ali Tazziz, Dr.Daoud Tlil, Dr. Diab Ayyoush, Mr.Hasan Al-Qiq, Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, Mrs. Mahira Dajani, Dr. Najwa Kamal Rshaid, Ms.Rana Immam, Dr. Rihad Issawi, Dr. Salim Ma'touk, Dr.Yaser Obeid,
Role of the Trustees
The Board of Trustees decides university policy and approves all its administrative and academic statutes and regulations. It approves the annual budget and appoints official auditors. The Board appoints the university's president, vice presidents, assistants to the president, and deans. It approves promotions, as recommended by the President and university councils.
As the university's overseeing body, the Board of Trustees supports the university's independence and takes all necessary measures to uphold its standards and to ensure the fulfillment of its mission. It directs the raising and development of university funds and organizes their proper investment. It supervises the progress of the university, with the purpose of enlarging its influence. It evaluates the graduates' capabilities to respond to the needs of society and the university's delivery of its educational mission.
Scott Alexander and CTU president Ronald Senior are worried about Jewish funding being pulled out of the CTU.
Alexander's backing out of the Damra testimony might also have to do with his concerns that law enforcement could scrutinize a portion of CTU's 2 million Lilly grant funding of his planned Hamas/ Al Quds "exchange program" run by known Hamas activists Mustafa Abu Sway and Azzam Tamimi.
CTU donors,board members, and the public should be calling for Scott Alexander's resignation and an investigation into the CTU and Bernadin Center's activities.
No apology from Scott Alexander will alter his Islamist agenda . The true face of CTU's interfaith has been publicly revealed.
The entry from lfg quotes Alexander equating Jerry Falwell with Hamas.
AMMO to slap this piece of shit in the face with. And lots of it.
"I asked Dr. Alexander if he was familiar with the fact the Jamal's Mosque had been under federal scrutiny for a decade and that at one time the vestibule of the Temple was filled with Hamas recruiting posters?
Dr. Alexander's response was alarming, he claimed that Hamas and their terrorist activity was really no different than what the "Christian evangelical right" - people like Jerry Falwell - have brought forth."
Note that Ira Yudovin, Michael Kotzin, and John Esposito, who are quoted below are on the CTU's Bernadin Center Board of Advisors. (see listing below)
A scholar of Islam who works to bridge the divide between Chicago´s Muslims and Jews has backed out of testifying in the criminal case of a Muslim cleric because the scholar´s pretrial statement has sparked controversy among some local Jewish leaders.
Scott Alexander, the Harvard-educated director of Catholic-Islamic studies at Catholic Theological Union, submitted statements last month in the case of Fawaz Damra, a Cleveland imam charged with lying to immigration officials about ties to militant Islamic groups.
In one of the statements submitted to the court, Alexander provided an explanation for some incendiary language used by Damra.
At a 1991 Chicago rally, the imam called for "directing all the rifles at the first and last enemy of the Islamic nation and that is the sons of monkeys and pigs, the Jews."
Alexander, 42, serving as an expert witness for the defense, stated that Damra´s remarks were part of the religious and political rhetoric used by Palestinians opposed to the Israeli occupation to draw supporters to their cause.
"As unquestionably hate-filled and thus morally reprehensible as such language is, when Palestinians refer to Jews as ´descended from apes and swine,´ or encourage support for those who ´kill Jews,´ they do so with the reasonably justifiable self-image of victim and persecuted, not of victimizer and persecutor," Alexander wrote in the summary of his proposed testimony.
Michael Kotzin, executive vice president of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, said Friday that Alexander´s statements were "appalling."
Alexander "didn´t use the initial language, but he´s justifying it, apologizing for it, whitewashing it," Kotzin said. "I´m surprised to see this expressed by a person in his position."
Some other Jewish leaders who know Alexander through their interfaith work in Chicago were less critical, saying they think he was not offering his opinion but an explanation for Damra´s language and that of many Palestinians.
"I know Scott well and he is not an anti-Semite," said Rabbi Ira Youdovin, executive vice president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis. "However, he made statements that at best were ill-conceived. But we have resolved our conflict and this could strengthen interfaith dialogue. We have different perceptions and we are willing to discuss them."
Kotzin, Youdovin and Emily Soloff, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, sent a letter Friday to Rev. Donald Senior, president of the Catholic Theological Union, expressing "profound distress" and seeking a meeting on the matter. They declined to provide a copy of the letter.
Alexander said he was not endorsing Damra´s language, but was trying to provide a deeper understanding, based on the Koran and the ideas of Islamic theologians, of why a Palestinian opposed to the Israeli occupation would use violent language.
"I tried to emphasize the vile nature of the language," Alexander said. "I was asked to testify whether there were any Palestinian contexts in which this hateful and violent language would not be construed as persecution."
Alexander said he found in the teachings of Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian ideologue and inspiration behind the current radical Islamic movement, that these curses are used to name oppressors.
"This is evidence that there might be people who use hateful and violent language in their minds to name those they perceive to be the oppressor," he said.
"This is not me talking, this is Qutb," he added.
John Esposito, a professor at Georgetown University and a leading Islamic scholar, said Alexander´s explanation was "very accurate."
"Alexander is not espousing or agreeing with this language but simply saying how the holy texts in Islam are used and abused," Esposito said.
Alexander said he was "deeply sorry" for what he says is a misunderstanding. He said he planned to send a letter of apology to some Chicago activists and religious leaders, including those in the Jewish community.
He also said he will not testify in Damra´s trial, scheduled to start Tuesday, because the complexity of the subject could again cause his statements to be misunderstood.
"I am not testifying because I realize this threatens the relationship with our Jewish friends," he said.
"I did not anticipate the hurt this is causing the Jewish community."
Since joining the Catholic Theological Union about three years ago, Alexander has helped organize public interfaith discussions called "Chicago Conversations in Faith."
Senior said the institution stands behind Alexander but regrets if his remarks have hurt Jews.
"Concerning the question being raised, ´Is Scott a hater of the Jews?´ I want to say that on behalf of CTU we would never tolerate it if there was any hint of someone being anti-Jewish or anti-Muslim," Senior said. "I am convinced that there is nothing like that in Scott´s attitudes."
Senior said Alexander will continue to represent the school in interfaith work in Chicago.
"We not only regret the harm that Scott´s statements have caused, but we will work hard to repair this and be in discussion with our Jewish friends to resolve the issue," he said.
Damra was arrested this year and charged with hiding ties to the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which has taken responsibility for suicide bombings in Israel, and other groups when he applied for U.S. citizenship in 1993. He also was charged with falsely stating that he had never incited persecution based on religion.
Damra, the Palestinian-born prayer leader of the Islamic Center of Greater Cleveland, the largest mosque in Ohio, has pleaded not guilty.
In the trial, the government is expected to contend that Damra´s language at the 1991 rally and other conferences incited persecution of Jews. The defense is expected to argue that the speeches reflected his views as an oppressed Palestinian.
In court papers, the judge in the case said Alexander´s testimony would have supported that argument.
Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, a videotape of Damra´s speech at the Chicago rally was aired on Cleveland television stations. The tape had been released by immigration agents in a deportation case in Florida involving another man.
(MIM: The other man was Sami Al Arian).
Damra apologized for the remarks after a public outcry. The president of his mosque also denounced Damra´s words, calling them "a serious compromise of our faith," according to a report in October 2001 in the Cleveland Plain Dealer
Click on URL to see Ira Yudovin,quoted above defending Scott Alexander, at a CIOCG event (Council of Islamic Organisations of Greater Chicago) attended by Louis Farakhan
Seminary Head Regrets Prof's Seemingly Anti-Semitic Remarks
By Jim Brown June 18, 2004
(AgapePress) - The president of a Roman Catholic seminary is responding to controversial remarks made by a tenured professor at the school in defense of a Muslim man on trial for immigration fraud and concealment of terrorist ties.
Scott Alexander is an associate professor of Islam at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. In a report filed in a Cleveland, Ohio, federal court on behalf of accused terrorist Fawaz Damra, Dr. Alexander wrote, "When Palestinians refer to Jews as 'descended from apes and swine' or encourage support for those who 'kill Jews,' they do so with the reasonably justifiable self-image of victim and persecuted, not of victimizer and persecutor."
Although the remarks have generated criticism and controversy, CTU president Ronald Senior says Alexander will not be reprimanded for them or subjected to any kind of disciplinary action.
"We don't feel that he acted with wrong intention or out of wrong values," Senior says. I think it was imprudent and an error in judgment, which he is the first to admit, and he feels terrible about it."
The associate professor's commentary in no way condones hate speech against Jews or any other group, CTU's administrative head contends. He feels the words have simply been misconstrued by the press and notes, "Those words ... which were focused in a very narrow, technical way, certainly leave the opening for that quote to be taken out of context -- to seem to be a justification of hate speech against Jews or others."
But Senior says such a justification, however inadvertently implied, "runs contrary to Dr. Alexander's own personal religious perspectives" and "certainly runs counter to what Catholic Theological Union stands for."
The seminary president says CTU has expressed "great regret" to the Jewish community for any harm Alexander's remarks have caused, and extends those regrets as well to those in the wider community who have been offended by the comments.
Scott Alexander bends over backwards to accommodate Muslims at CTU interfaith event:
Hospitality Opens Doors to Interfaith Dialouge
April 25, 2003
The signs in the bathroom stalls were the first clue something was going on at Catholic Theological Union. Worried that the seminary students might wonder about the watering cans that suddenly appeared in their restrooms, organizers posted signs explaining they were for Muslim ritual washings, or wudu in Arabic.
The watering cans were just one attempt at hospitality toward the Muslim men and women attending the third annual conference sponsored by CTU's Catholic-Muslim Studies Program, the only one of its kind in the United States.
"It's all part of our agenda of broadening the definition of interreligious dialogue," said Scott Alexander, the program's director and a professor of Islam at CTU. "It's not just about discussing doctrine. It's also about living with one another.".
Other "meager attempts," as Alexander described them, at making Muslims feel at home included avoiding pork and addressing other dietary concerns in the meals, scheduling talks around prayer times and turning a fifth-floor faculty lounge into a temporary prayer center. Christian images were removed from the walls and replaced with Islamic calligraphy of verses from the Quran. Clean sheets were spread over the carpet for salat, the obligatory Muslim prayer five times a day.
"Both of our traditions call for hospitality to the stranger precisely because they are different," said Alexander. "We want to reduce some of the alienation, but not the sense of otherness. Dialogue is about exploring similarities and dignifying differences."
In February 2004 Scott Alexander organised this interfaith event and invited Oussamma Jammal of the Bridgeview Mosque, whose spokesman Rafiq Jaber, is the head of the Islamic Association of Palestine (aka Hamas).
MIM wrote to the participants urging them not to attend the event citing Bridgeview Mosque's terrorism links. (see letter below).
The only participant to cancel was Emily Soloff of the AJC.
The CTU event link is now a fixture on the Bridgeview Mosque Foundation website.
MIM Letter to the participants:.See pictures and information below:
The Chicago Community Trust has provided a grant which is being used to fund the upcoming "Conversations in Faith" event being hosted by the Christian Theological Union. The theme of the conference is "Jews, Christians, and Muslims, Preparing Our Children for Living Together" .
Further, Steve Emerson described his visit to the Bridgeview mosque and talk with Imam Jamil Said in American Jihad.
Later, he took Khalid and me to the Bridgeview Mosque, where Jamal Said was the imam. I could tell immediately that we were deep in the heart of Hamas territory.
The walls of the vestibule were covered with Hamas posters and recruiting literature showing masked gunmen brandishing automatic weapons. It was all in Arabic, but you could see daggers plunged into Jewish hearts wrapped up in American flags. They even had a library filled with militant terrorist videos and books.http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=26888
At a post 9/11 press conference, in the presence of mosque spokesman Rafiq Jaber, and Imam Jamil Said, Ousama Jammal stated the following: "How certain are we that it was Arabs who were behind it?" Suggesting that Americans look at the causes, he argued that despair and fear are at the roots of terrorism. http://www.washington-report.org/archives/november01/0111050.html
CHICAGO CONVERSATIONS IN FAITH
A series of public conversations between Jews, Christians, & Muslims sponsored by the Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union and the Chicago Community Trust
Choosing Peace: Jews, Christians, & Muslims Preparing Our Children for Life TogetherMonday, February 9, 2004 at 7 p.m. Chicago Cultural Center, 77 East Randolph Ave., Chicago
Featured speaker: Arne Duncan, CEO, Chicago Public Schools
With leaders from Chicago's Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities:
Oussama Jammal, President, The Mosque Foundation, Bridgeview, IL;
Elaine Schuster, President and CEO, Golden Apple Foundation, Chicago
Emily Soloff, Executive Director, American Jewish Committee-Chicago chapter
Moderated by: Carol Marin, columnist for the Chicago Tribune
Sponsored by the Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago
Conversations in Faith is a series of public conversations that draws together Chicago's Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faith communities to discuss critical issues, form partnerships, and engage in cooperative social action.
Through a generous grant from The Chicago Community Trust, Chicago Conversations in Faith harnesses the vision, values, and cooperative spirit of Chicago's Abrahamic faith communities to work together toward common goals.
John Esposito, who is head of the Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, spoke at a conference in 1997 where he defended Sheik Tantawi's ruling that suicide bombings were permissable under Islam, declaring, "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter". Another speaker at the Malaysia conference was Roger Garaudy, a notorious Holocaust denier who had been fined $50,000 dollars by a court for his writings. http://www.iol.ie/~afifi/BICNews/Afaiz/afaiz40.htm
Reverend John Canary President and Rector, Mundelein Seminary, University of St. Mary of the Lake
Leroy Carlson, Jr. President and CEO, Telephone Data Systems, Inc.
Donna Carroll, Ph.D. President, Dominican University
P. Kevin Clary Retired Business Executive
René Crown Philanthropist and Civic Leader
Margaret C. Daley President, Pathways Awareness Foundation
Reverend Stanley Davis Executive Director, National Conference for Community and Justice
Catherine Denny James & Catherine Denny Foundation
James Denny James & Catherine Denny Foundation
William J. Devers, Jr. President, The Devers Group
Thomas J. Donnelly, Esq. Trustee, Mary J. Donnelly Foundation
John Esposito Director, Center for Christian-Muslim Understanding, Georgetown University
Nancy Furey, M.D. Physician, Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Warren Furey, M.D. Chair of Medicine, Mercy Hospital
J. Ira Harris Pritzker and Pritzker, Inc.
Rev. J. Bryan Hehir President, Catholic Charities USA
Asad Husain President, American Islamic College
Eugene Kennedy Writer/biographer of Cardinal Bernardin
Michael Kotzin Executive Director, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago
Joan Lavezzorio President and CEO, Loyola Paper Company
Jonathan Levine Midwest Regional Director, American Jewish Committee
Archbishop Oscar H. Lipscomb Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama, Head of Catholic Common Ground
William E. Lowry, Jr. Vice-President, Human Resources and Administration, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Joe Madden President, Madden Funds, Inc.
His Eminence Cardinal Roger Mahony Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Reverend Edward A. Malloy, CSC President, University of Notre Dame
Richard A. Marker Executive Vice-President, The Samuel Bronfman Foundation
Joan McGuire, O.P. Director, Office of Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs, Archdiocese of Chicago
William McIntosh Retired Business Executive
Andrew J. McKenna, Sr. Chairman and CEO, Schwarz Paper Company
Lester H. McKeever, Jr. Managing Partner, Washington, Pittman, McKeever
Sheila McLaughlin Director, Bernardin Center, CTU
Reverend John P. Minogue, CM President, DePaul University
Newton Minow Partner, Sidley & Austin
Reverend Phillip Murnion Director, National Pastoral Life Center, New York
Daniel Murray Partner, Jenner & Block
Thomas Nairn, OFM Associate Professor of Ethics, CTU
Joan F. Neal President, Joan Neal & Associates Trustee, CTU
Talat Othman Council of Islamic Organizations Vice-President, Grove Financial Inc.
Margaret Paluch Chairperson, J.S. Paluch Company
John Pawlikowski, OSM Co-director, Catholic-Jewish Studies Program, CTU
Reverend Michael Place President and CEO, Catholic Health Association, St. Louis
Thomas Reedy President, Reedy Industries
William E. Reidy, President, William Reidy Associates
Rev. Gary Riebe-Estrella, SVD Vice President and Academic Dean, CTU
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Executive Director, National Brain Research Institute
Shirley Welsh Ryan Chicago Civic Leader
Manuel Sanchez Attorney, Sanchez & Daniels
Rabbi Herman Schaalman Emanuel Congregation
Reverend Robert Schreiter, CPPS Professor, Doctrinal Theology, CTU
Katarina Schuth, OSF Professor, St. Paul Seminary, St. Thomas University, Minnesota
Carole Segal Founder and Vice-President of Civic Affairs, Crate & Barrel, Inc.
Patricia A. Shevlin Director, Arthur J. Schmitt Foundation
Norman A. Shubert Trustee of Shapiro and Gamble Foundations
Reverend Alphonse Spilly, CPPS Former Director, Bernardin Center
Howard L. Stone, Sr. Vice-President, American Express Tax and Business Services
Jerome Stone Chairman Emeritus, Stone Container Co.
Dr. Howard Sulkin President, Spertus Institute of Judaica
Sayyid Syeed Secretary General, Islamic Society of North America
John J. Treanor Assistant Chancellor, Archives and Records, Archdiocese of Chicago
Mary-Frances Veeck Retired Public Relations Executive, Trustee, CTU
Maynard Wishner Civic and Community Leader
Rabbi Ira S. Youdovin Executive Vice President, Chicago Board of Rabbis
Dominga Zapata, SH Ethnic Ministry Consultant, Archdiocese of Chicago
Interfaith as Bad Faith: From Hamas to the American Jewish Committee :
American Jewish Committee, Catholic Theological Union Partner to Advance Interreligious Understanding
January 29, 2003-- The American Jewish Committee and the Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Center for Theology and Ministry at Catholic Theological Union, the largest Catholic school of theology in the United States, have announced a joint association dedicated to further improving Catholic-Jewish relations.
The AJC-CTU association will also enable the routine exchange of research, analysis, and ideas, in addition to the opportunity to work together to support special events. The association may include joint sponsorship of publications, conferences, study groups, and interreligious visits.
"We enter into this agreement in the hope and belief that the association of AJC and CTU will increase the reach and effectiveness of our two organizations, and will also serve the best interests of the Catholic and Jewish communities, as well as those of religious communities in the United States and around the world," said Rev. John Pawlikowski, expert in interreligous dialogue and director of the Catholic-Jewish Studies Program at Catholic Theological Union.
Rabbi David Rosen, AJC's Director of International Interreligious Affairs, said, "We believe that this coop- erative relationship with one of the foremost Catholic theological schools in the U.S., will enhance even further the unique contribution of the AJC to the historic transformation in our times of Catholic-Jewish relations."
The formal association also includes the commissioning of a study regarding joint oversight and expansion of the Catholic/Jewish Educational Enrichment Program (C/JEEP), the AJC92s award-winning interreligious understanding initiative for Catholic and Jewish high school students and faculty. The Bernardin Center at CTU and the AJC have collaborated on several projects, including the Catholic Jewish Studies Conference on "Jews and Catholics Working Together."
Founded in 1906, the American Jewish Committee is the nation's oldest human relations organization, protecting the rights and freedoms of Jews worldwide, combating bigotry and anti-Semitism, while supporting human rights for all.
The Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union, founded in 1997 to continue the vision of the late Cardinal Bernardin, focuses on his signature issues such as reconciliation and peacemaking, interreligious dialogue, and the role of religion in society. The Bernardin Center is sponsor of the highly respected Catholic-Jewish Studies Program.
Two families, one Jewish and one Catholic, have endowed a chair in Jewish studies at Catholic Theological Union (CTU).
The Rev. Donald P. Senior, C.P., president of CTU, announced the Lester Crown Family and the Patrick G. Ryan Family have made this gift at a time when people of many faiths mark remembrance of the Holocaust, April 19.
"On this special day of remembrance of the Holocaust, in a world still strained by conflict and lack of understanding, this gift from the Crowns and the Ryans will enable our school to educate religious leaders of the future who will shape Christian congregations and their interactions with Judaism," Senior said.
Industrialist Lester Crown commented in a Chicago Tribune article, "Together with the Ryans we wanted to do something as far as bridging the relationship between Catholics and Jews. Teaching both priests and Catholic lay leadership is very important."
The gift will provide for the ongoing presence of a Jewish scholar at CTU.
"Under the courageous leadership of Pope John Paul II, a seat change has taken place in what historically has often been a tortured relationship between Catholics and Jews," President Senior said. "In an act of public contrition during his historic millennium pilgrimage to Israel, Pope John Paul II placed a message in a crevice of the Western Wall. The message asked God's forgiveness for causing 'these children of yours to suffer' and renewed the pledge 'to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant.'" The Pope's powerful example has encouraged Catholics worldwide to redouble their efforts to seek reconciliation and harmony with their Jewish brothers and sisters.
Newton Minow, who serves on the Jewish Studies Committee and National Advisory Board of the Bernardin Center said, "Cardinal Bernardin, more than once said, 'I am Joseph your brother.' Through this generous gift, the Crown and Ryan families are advancing Cardinal Bernardin's work and spirit."
The late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin made the Catholic-Jewish dialogue a centerpiece of his vision. Because of Cardinal Bernardin's profound commitment to this dialogue, a commitment continued by his successor, Francis Cardinal George, the graduate school's Catholic-Jewish Studies Program is sponsored by the Bernardin Center for Theology and Ministry.
Catholic-Jewish Studies has been an integral part of Catholic Theological Union (CTU) since the graduate school's inception in 1968. Directed by the Rev. John T. Pawlikowski, professor of ethics and regarded as the leading Catholic authority on Christian-Jewish relations, the purpose of the program is to instill in future Christian religious leaders knowledge of and respect for the history and content of Judaism as a living religious tradition and to foster a spirit of dialogue and understanding.
In addition to offering courses in Judaism and the Shapiro Lecture series, which brings outstanding Jewish scholars to campus, the program also sponsors conferences, forums, lectures, and consultations that advance the Catholic-Jewish dialogue. CTU also offers annual study programs to Israel and other historical lands in the Middle East directed by expert faculty.
The extraordinary convergence of academic resources in the Chicago area – augmented by strong relationships between Jewish and Christian religious leaders – has placed Chicago among the foremost world centers for Christian-Jewish dialogue. According to Cardinal Edward I. Cassidy, former head of the Vatican Commission on religious relations with the Jews, Chicago is at the forefront of the Catholic-Jewish dialogue.
Rabbi Youdovin, executive director of the Chicago Board of Rabbis who serves on the Jewish Studies Committee and the National Board of Advisors of the Bernardin Center, said, "I remember Cardinal Cassidy addressing a group of local Catholic and Jewish leaders on his plans for enhancing relations between our two faith communities. When he was done, we told him that most of his ideas were already happening in Chicago. CTU and the Bernardin Center deserve much of the credit for that."
"While some Chicago universities offer distinguished programs in Jewish studies, the distinctive feature of the Catholic-Jewish Studies program at CTU is its emphasis on the relationship between Catholics and Jews, particularly as it shapes the perspectives of future church leaders," said the Rev. Al Spilly, director of the Bernardin Center.
Within Chicago, the presence of Catholic Theological Union and its Bernardin Center have been vital in bringing to the conversation the unique relationship of the Catholic community to Judaism.
Father John Pawlikowski said, "The Jewish Studies Chair further enhances CTU's stature as one of the preeminent centers internationally for serious reflection and research on the Catholic-Jewish relationship. It will help build on the excellent groundwork laid by the late Dr. Hayim Goren Perelmuter, CTU's first professor of Jewish Studies."
Founded in 1968 in the renewed spirit of the Second Vatican Council, Catholic Theological Union is the largest Catholic graduate school of theology and ministry in the United States. Through its faculty of world-renowned scholars, CTU is preparing women and men, ordained and lay, international and ethnically diverse, for service to the worldwide church.
CTU is the home of the Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Center for Theology and Ministry, where the vision of Cardinal Bernardin continues to flourish through scholarships, seminars, lectures, and a full array of public programs. The Center focuses on the Cardinal's signature issues including justice and peacemaking, interreligious dialogue, health care, reconciliation, religion, and society.
Talat Othman, a wealthy Arab businessman who is on the advisory board of the Benardin Center, is vice president of the Council of Islamic Organisation in Chicago, and also works with the Bridgeview Mosque Foundation . Below Othman lauds the "interfaith" programs set up with the Bernardin Center as an opportunity for outreach.
For Muslims outreach is a code word for Da'wa or Islamic Propagation.
The Council derives its strength from active involvement and support of our valued member organizations. Their dedicated leaders and representatives keep the Council going with collective decision-making, planning, and implementation. Their heart-felt messages below are treasured and a source of inspiration as we forge ahead together. All we can say here is THANKS for this appreciation!
· Talat Othman, President, Founding Committee of the Council.
"Congratulations to the Council on its tenth anniversary. It is only 10 years young & getting better. May Allah (swt) guide & grant the leaders of this great organization the wisdom to build a great Muslim community, for a better America."
Rafiq Jabr, President Islamic Assn of Palestine
Talat Othman's remarks on the significance of the CIOGC interfaith programs with the CTU Bernadin Center :
Remarks from the President of the Council's Founding Committee
"As the president of the ad hoc committee that found the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, I am very grateful to Allah (swt) for the success that we were blessed with during the first ten years of the Council's existence. God willing, the next ten years will be even more fruitful with love and peace among peoples of all races, faiths, and ethnicities. The less time needed to put out fires of fear, hate, and discrimination, the more time will be spent on improving relations within our community, society, and country for the benefit of all people in the great nation.
It is appropriate at this time to reflect on the founding and growth of this organization. Much of the credit goes to Dr. Ibrahim Elghindy for planting the seed and for calling the first meeting of heads of Muslim associations. That action resulted in the election of the Ad Hoc Committee to look into the formation of an umbrella organization. The nine members of the Ad hoc committee, including vice-president Dr. Mohammed Kaiseruddin, spent days and months in research, preparations, and meetings until Alhamdulillah, the by-laws were accepted and endorsed by all the major (in size of membership) Mosques and Islamic Centers. Other organizations later joined the Council.
The Council was blessed from the beginning, having dedicated persons to serve in leadership positions. The first chairman of the Council, Dr. Kaiseruddin initiated many programs including " food for the poor", and the media relations committee. Dr. Talal Sunbulli followed as chairman and strengthened the Council; he instituted the outreach program with interfaith dialogues. Br. Kareem Irfan, the current chair, improved and expanded the effectiveness of the Council in several areas including the media, dialogues, and outreach. Under his leadership, a Council office was opened, and of particular significance is the relationship with the Catholic Theological Union-Cardinal Bernardin Center, where a Catholic-Muslim Studies Program was initiated. I am honored to serve on the Bernardin Center's Advisory Board."
MIM this was the note on the Muslim Uzbekistan website which might not be accessible via the URL :
Editor's note:This letter was emailed by Federation of Australian Muslim Students and Youth (FAMSY)
March 29, 2002
A LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF USA ON MUSLIM CIVIL LIBERTIES
Mr. George W. Bush President of the United States The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 March 26, 2002
Dear Mr. President:
I am writing for two reasons.
The first is to extend my prayers to you, your family, and your White House staff for providing this country with strong leadership in these difficult times. I can only imagine that, since September 11th, precious little of the decisions you must make on a daily basis are pleasant ones. I pray that God continue to bless you with the wisdom and strength you need to persevere as a national and world leader at a time when so much of the world and its politics are undergoing such great stress and flux.
The second reason I'm writing is to protest, in the strongest terms possible, the recent raids on the homes and offices of Muslim citizens and community leaders in Virginia and the D.C. area. I realize that ensuring national security in times like these occasionally requires a resort to extreme measures. I also realize, however, that if attacks on this country were carried out by a group like the IRA, it would be highly unlikely that federal agents would be raiding the offices of Roman Catholic archdioceses around the country. Yet that is the magnitude of what has happened here.
It is almost as if, because the Muslim community and its leadership is not structured according to clearly defined clerical and lay distinctions (which do not, by and large, exist in Islam--especially not in Islam in the U.S.), the respect accorded the leadership of mainsteam Christian and Jewish communities simply does not apply to their Muslim counterparts.
Unfortunately, it appears that such obvious discrimination goes unchecked because the voice of the Muslim community in this country is simply not yet strong or influential enough to afford its members the protections enjoyed by members of more numerous or influential religious communities.
This affront to the integrity and rights of the Muslim community in the U.S. is compounded by the fact that, to the best of my knowledge, its leadership has repeatedly and sincerely offered to cooperate fully with law enforcement authorities in the current imperative to dismantle terrorist networks here in the U.S. Nonetheless, the homes of some prominent, civically active Muslim individuals have been invaded with what appears to be little to no consultation with them or other members of the Muslim community who could have helped investigators pursue their task with the caution, scruples, and due process demanded by our Constitution for every U.S. citizen.
My fear is that our government has taken the lead of a self-appointed and media-anointed "terrorist expert" like Steven Emerson who simply points his finger at each and every Muslim organization with any tie to Palestine, and declares them hornets' nests of terrorist activity. Does the FBI, for example, consult regularly with those key members of the Muslim community who can raise substantive (rather than rhetorical) objections to the observations of someone like Emerson? My sense is that it does not. Rather, it seems that in its dealings with the domestic Muslim community, federal law enforcement is operating on Emerson's McCarthy-like assumption of treachery rather than loyalty among the American Muslim community.
I would think, Mr. President, that this would gravely sadden and outrage you as it does the rest of us who have deep ties with the Muslim community and who are terribly concerned for the welfare of its members as we continue to struggle for ways to increase our security without compromising our most cherished values.
As an American citizen, I want very much to trust in my government at a time like this. I want very much to trust that we are doing what's in the best interests of this country and all its citizens. I must say, however, that my trust is being eroded by a combination of "extreme circumstance" excuses, secret evidence privileges, surprise raids on the homes of respected Muslim leaders, and sentiments by our chief law enforcement officer (i.e., Mr. Ashcroft) and the religious culture of his roots (e.g., Franklin Graham) which betray a profound ignorance of and antipathy toward Islam.
Not long after the day of our great national tragedy, with courage and foresight you came before the American people and stated quite explicitly that our war was not a war on Islam and Muslim peoples. I, for one, believe you were--and are--sincere in this belief. I wonder, however, whether this important statement still rings true. As you know, it's not enough simply to say that the rights and dignity of American Muslims will be protected during this trying episode in our history. Certain clearly defined steps must be taken, and firm commitments made to see to it that this be the case.
Are such steps being taken? If they are, many of us both within and without the Muslim community cannot identify them. Have such commitments been made? If so, many of us do not recognize them or see them being carried out.
In the name of God, and in the name of all that is noble and good in our great nation, I respectfully implore you to take immediate and concrete steps to prove to all Americans--and the rest of the world--that the rights and dignity of the Muslim community in the U.S. will be afforded all the protection they legally and morally deserve.
Once again, thank you for your leadership. And, as always, may God bless you and guide you to act solely to His greater glory.
Scott C. Alexander, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Islam Director, Catholic-Muslim Studies Chair, Department of Cross-Cultural Ministries Catholic Theological Union 5401 South Cornell Avenue Chicago, IL 60615 U.S.A. tel. 773.256.4251; fax 773.684.1067 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
MIM: The updated board membership list for the Bernadin Center shows that Emily Soloff the director of the American Jewish Committee and Jonathan Levine the AJC regional coordinator are now on the board. Another new board member is Elaine Shuster the CEO of a major charity called the Golden Apple Foundation.