A Tale Of Two Priests
Having yesterday criticised him with gusto, it seems that Father John Gannon, the parish priest of St. Albert's, Pollokshields, is made of sterner stuff than I had first imagined.
Fr. Gannon has described as 'extremists' the Islamic activists behing the Campaign for Muslim Schools who disrupted a Mass he was saying for St. Albert's Primary School, and has been quoted by The Herald as saying,
"Had this been about attendance at Mass, they would have followed the regulations and given the school advance notice, as indeed one person did.
By their deliberate and sustained disruption it is clear that their intention was to show their contempt for the Christian faith. It was especially ironic that they chose to deliver this insult on the day Muslims throughout Europe were expressing outrage at the disrespect shown to their prophet".
Some parents seem to have slung a cod accusation of inciting "religious and racial hatred" at at Fr. Gannon, who, by doing his job and providing a Catholic service for a Catholic school, in their eyes may have got above his station.
They might care to ponder the example of cultural and religious understanding given by the life of Fr. Andrea Santoro.
An Italian, a priest of the Diocese of Rome and a blogger, Fr. Santoro, 60, was murdered on February 5 in his church, St.Mary's, in Trabzon, Turkey. His congregation was small, only 15 strong- yet he wrote of Trabzon,"Here, there is a world dear to God”. He described his mission, which he narrated on his blog 'Window On The Middle East', as being,
" to gather from this land the many riches God gave it and send from there to here the riches God created over time, so that we can interact with each other on human, spiritual, cultural and religious levels, enriching each other’s life, and counter the hatred, threats and war that are too often visible on the horizon.”
Fr. Santoro was shot twice in the back. There were initial suspicions that his death might have been connected with his having butted heads with Trabzon's hyperactive people-traffickers - however it now seems that, having shouted 'Allahu Akbar!' as he ended Fr. Santoro's life, the assassin's motives were rather more straightforward.
Andrea Santoro (1945-2006) RIP.