Led by Fr. John O’Connor, O.F.M., a member of Siena’s Board of Trustees, the Franciscan friars of Holy Name Province have raised their voices against the rising tide of anti-Muslim rhetoric in the United States. Fr. John, Minister Provincial, and his Vicar, Fr. Dominic Monti, O.F.M. , used the occasion of the ninth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks to oppose the “vitriolic abuse against Islam as a religion.” In a recent news release, they pointed out that such anti-Muslim bigotry is contrary to Catholic Church teaching and is reminiscent of 19th century attitudes toward Roman Catholics in this country whose “practices and values” were deemed “contrary to the American way of life.”
In their remarks, Frs. John and Dominic referenced the legacy of St. Francis of Assisi: “we Franciscans cannot help but recall that we are followers of a man who crossed frontiers, even battle lines, to offer a message of peace to the perceived enemies of Christianity.” They were referring to the historic meeting between St. Francis and the Muslim sultan of Egypt, Malik-al-Kamil, in Damietta, an encounter that has been chronicled by Paul Moses in his book, The Saint and the Sultan. Moses will speak at the dedication of Siena’s Damietta Cross-Cultural Center in September 2010.