“Yeah, you got ‘im.”
“This is Imam Mohammed down at Masjid Amr ibn al-As…”
“Mo! Hey, buddy, great to hear from ya! How’s it going? Look, I gotta tell ya, the baba ghanouj at last week’s outreach was…to die for –”
“I am so glad you liked it, Your Grace, but I am calling you about an urgent matter.”
“Hey, Mo, fire away. Anything you need, you can count on me, buddy.”
“Yes, I know. Listen, I’ve gotten word that one of your parishes out in the suburbs is hosting a speaker on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.”
“Yeah, Mo, have you heard the latest from Iraq? Good gravy, Father Bud was telling me about it this morning after Mass.”
“Your Grace, I have told you about that Father Bud–”
“I know, I know, yeah, Mo, I know he can be a bit officious, but it’s so hard to get good guys these days, you know? I am sure you good folks have the same problem.”
“Actually we have a flood of applicants for seminary. But that is beside the point.”
“Hey, Mo, that’s great. Wow, that’s terrific news. More power to ya, eh, buddy? Anyway, look, so Bud was telling me about how in Iraq, they were torturing Christians in their own churches. Now, I know you condemn–”
“Yes, Bishop Kevin–”
“Hey, Mo, call me Kev.”
“Uh, yes. Kev. Anyway, of course we condemn all forms of extremism, Muslim, Christian, and Jewish. But I want to make sure you understand: if you allow a talk about extreme, militant Islamists and the atrocities that they have perpetrated globally, it might undercut the positive achievements that you as Catholics have attained in your inter-religious dialogue with devout Muslims. It might possibly also generate suspicion and even fear of people who practice piously the religion of Islam.”
“Oh, my word. Cripes, Mo, I had no idea. You know how much the dialogue means to me. That baba ghanouj! What do you want me to do, buddy?”
“Your Grace, I want you to cancel this talk, and to disallow any discussion of the persecution of Christians in majority-Muslim countries on Church properties.”
“Mo, hey, no worries. You got it. I wouldn’t dream of offending you, Mo. After all, we’re such good buds! You can count on me. I will call the parish and get that speaker canceled in a jiffy.”
“I knew I could count on you, Your Grace–”
“Uh, yes. Kev. Thank you. See you next week at the mosque.”
“You betcha, Mo! I wouldn’t miss it for the world! Make sure there is plenty of baba ghanouj!”
“Oh, I will, Your Grace. I will.”
Iraqi Christians are reportedly being tortured in local churches by Islamic State in northern Iraq.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, a Christian resident from the Islamic State-held city of Mosul, said: “These two churches are being used as prisons and for torture. Three of the Christian prisoners died because they were sick and nobody cared for them.”
The man, known as Abu Aasi, claims that Christian prisoners in the churches are being forced to convert and that Islamic State have been “breaking all the crosses and statues of Mary”.
Whilst the claim could not be independently verified, thousands of Christians have fled Mosul since the city was seized by Islamic State in August 2014.
Faced with the prospect of conversion, paying a special tax or execution, up to 20,000 Christians reportedly fled Mosul in just 45 days, according to a UN report….