“Yeah, this is him.”
“This is Imam Mahmoud down at Masjid Mehmet the Conqueror…”
“Mock Mood! Hey, buddy, great to hear from ya! How’s it going? Look, I gotta tell ya, the hummus 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, Imam, buddy, 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, Mock Mood, have you heard the latest from Nigeria?”
“Your Grace, it’s Mahmoud. I know this name can be hard for you to pronounce, but it is so grating on the ears to hear you say ‘Mock Mood.’ I would thank you to –”
“Hey, hey, sorry, old buddy, hey wow. I am so sorry. I assure you, no offense was meant, okay? You’ll have to forgive a provincial American like me, buddy. I’ll just stick with ‘Imam’ or ‘Your Excellency.’ Anyway, lookee here, Father Bud was telling me a terrible story this morning after Mass.”
“Father Bud? Bishop Kevin, I thought you told me you were going to send him to Pl–”
“I know, I know, yeah, Mock– I mean, Your Excellency, but I have a shortage of guys, you know? It’s hard to spare a fella, even if has offended–”
“Let me be clear about this, Bishop: our future cordial relations depend on your removing this man from the Chancery. Nothing less than that is acceptable.”
“Hey, imam, wow. That’s a lot to lay on me this early in the day, you know? But if it means that much to you, I’ll order the transfer this afternoon. But look, I did want to ask you — Bud was telling me about how in Nigeria, a Muslim — well, I shouldn’t call him Muslim, I know — anyway, a suicide bomber blew himself up in front of a church. And Bud was saying he wanted to sponsor a speaker series about Muslim — I mean, radical violent extremist — persecution of Christians. Now, I know you condemn–”
“Yes, Bishop Kevin–”
“Hey, Your Excellency, call me Kev.”
“Uh, yes. Kev. Anyway, of course we condemn all forms of extremism: Christian, Jewish and secular. 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. Gee, I had no idea. You know how much the dialogue means to me. That hummus! What do you want me to do, buddy?”
“Kev, 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, Your Excellency. After all, you know how much your friendship means to me! 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, Kev–”
“You always can, Your Excellency!”
“Good. Thank you. See you next week at the mosque.”
“You betcha, Mock– I mean, Imam! I wouldn’t miss it for the world! Make sure there is plenty of hummus!”
“Oh, I will, Kev. I will.”
“Suicide bomber hits church in Nigeria’s Gombe, wounding eight,” Reuters, January 1, 2015:
KADUNA, Nigeria (Reuters) – A suicide bomber blew himself up at the gates of a church in Nigeria’s northeastern city of Gombe during a New Year service, wounding eight people, an official for Nigeria’s Red Cross told Reuters on Thursday.
“This morning while people were in church for the New Year worship, a suicide attacker rode on a motorcycle trying to gain entrance to the premises of the church. When he was stopped at the gates by the church guards…he blew himself up and injured eight people,” the official said.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Sunni jihadist group Boko Haram, waging an insurgency to establish an Islamist state, is mainly focused on the three northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe but frequently set off bombs in other states targeting civilians….