A priest’s decision to allow the Muslim call to prayer to feature during a Mass in Mayo was “misguided”, according to an expert on the Church in the Arab world.
Fr Stephen Farragher of Ballyhaunis Parish organised for members of the Muslim community in Ballyhaunis to say the final prayer at 10am morning Mass last week, broadcast on Midwest Radio.
It was said they would join Fr Farragher to seek a blessing for all frontline heathcare workers and frontline workers generally during the pandemic and also pray for the eradication of Covid-19.
Fr Michael O’Sullivan M.Afr., who spent decades in the Middle East and has recently returned to become the new director of World Missions Ireland, said: “While recognising the good intentions of the Ballyhaunis priest to further interreligious dialogue and comprehension, such ‘acts of solidarity’ are certainly misguided and will only be seen by many as a counter witness.”
A video of the event showed the Islamic call to prayer being sung in the church. The Mass took place last Friday.
“The Muslim call to prayer boldly proclaiming ‘I profess that that there is no god but God, I profess that Muhammad is God’s prophet’, can have no place in a Catholic Eucharist,” said Fr O’Sullivan, who is a fluent Arabic speaker.
“There are many ways of furthering dialogue with Muslims which today should only be recommended and encouraged.
“For obvious reasons, inviting the Islamic call to prayer to be made from the lectern in a Catholic church is not one of them.”
However, Fr O’Sullivan said that interreligious dialogue and solidarity and peace between Christians and Muslims is more important than ever.
“The situation in which we find ourselves: it’s almost like caring for the Earth if you like, if I could use that analogy, in that whether we like it or not we are living with the Earth and we’re called to be friends of the Earth. I would say in a way the same is true of our relationship with Muslims in general,” he said.
Fr O’Sullivan added that this calls for: “Promoting a discourse of dialogue, of understanding, and I suppose fighting ignorance.”