Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, gave an interview Sept. 10 with Fox29 TV reporter Sean Tobin, at which the Catholic Standard and Times was present. The Cardinal responded to questions about a controversial Florida pastor’s plan to burn copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, on Sept. 11. The pastor later cancelled the event amid worldwide condemnation.
Watch the video of the interview in three parts on the Catholic Standard and Times' You Tube channel.
The planned Quran burning was “a reprehensible thing,” Cardinal Rigali said. “This is totally unjustified from every standpoint. Acts of violence and extremism trigger other acts. They are contrary to human dignity, contrary to the way we are supposed to act as human beings. This is disrespectful of religious values of people who are our brothers and sisters. There is no justification for it.
“When any type of human rights are not respected then the results are disastrous. We can’t expect to have a world of peace and do things that are contrary to the rights of human beings.”
“This is completely wrong (and) very disappointing,” he continued. “It violates Christian teaching and is the antithesis of what Christianity is all about. Christianity does not involve hatred, or is disrespectful of human beings, disrespectful of human values, or stir up anger and revenge.”
Instead of this “very irresponsible act,” he said, “We should be thinking about peace. How is peace produced? It is produced by kindness, by love, by working together. It’s produced by prayer.”
Paraphrasing Pope John Paul II, with whom he worked closely at the Vatican for many years, Cardinal Rigali recalled the late pope’s words on the topic, themselves echoing his predecessor, Pope Paul VI.
“If you want peace, work for justice,” Cardinal Rigali said. “If you want justice, defend life. Defend the values that are part of Christianity.”
He continued, “We should help Sudan, where the people have suffered so much. We have a great challenge in Pakistan,” he said, referring to the estimated 17 million people affected by recent flooding in the country.
“These are the values of Christianity,” he said. “This is Christianity, and anything that masquerades as Christianity should be rejected as such.
“What (the Florida pastor) proposes to do has nothing to do with Christianity and Christianity repudiates it. What he is doing is totally contrary to Christian doctrine, to the message of Christ, to the law of love, to respect for human beings and the value of each human person, and the fact that human beings have religious rights.”