Pastor of NY parish withdraws support for sale of vacant convent to Muslim group
Pastor of NY parish withdraws support for sale of vacant convent to Muslim group

.- The pastor of a Staten Island parish in a controversy over the proposed sale of a vacant convent to a Muslim group has withdrawn his support for the sale after “careful reflection.” St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church has been considering selling a vacant convent to the Muslim American Society (MAS), which planned to turn the building into a mosque and community center.

Local opponents have voiced concerns about terrorism and respect for the victims of the 9/11 attacks, while the Muslim group has attributed opposition to fear and prejudice.

Fr. Keith Fennessy, pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish, said in a Thursday statement that he has concluded that the proposed sale “would not serve the need of the parish.”

“I wish to formally withdraw my support for the sale, and request that it not take place."

The Archdiocese of New York said that the contents of the pastor’s letter have been shared with the trustees of St. Margaret Mary as well as the representatives of MAS.

“In the light of Father Fennessy's letter as pastor, it is our hope that an amicable resolution can be reached between Saint Margaret Mary Parish and the Muslim American Society,” the archdiocese said.

In a Friday statement, MAS said it feels “strongly” that present events are being driven by “fear and hysteria, some of it being stirred up by professional groups that have a history of being prejudiced against Muslims.”

“We are American citizens and we love our country. We do not operate as an extension of any non-American religious or political organization. What have we done wrong to cause anyone to deny us the right to build a house of worship?”

The group added that it believes in the good will of the Catholic leaders and that “ultimately they will do the right thing and allow this sale to be completed.” MAS said the Catholic community has endured “some of the same prejudice and fear mongering.”

Opponents of the sale, who included relatives of 9/11 victims, said they had not been informed about the Islamic organization or its intentions before the deal was proposed, reports say. According to the New York Post, retired New York Fire Department Deputy Chief Al Santora, whose son was a firefighter who died in the terrorist attacks, characterized the land as “a burial ground” because victims’ remains had been scattered for blocks.

Critics also voiced concern about MAS’ alleged connections to the Muslim Brotherhood. They asked the group’s leader to denounce Hamas and Hezbollah, both of which are considered terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department.

“MAS denounces any act of terror in the United States or outside,” commented one MAS leader at a June 9 community meeting after repeated questioning.

According to MyFoxNY.com, a video from 2000 shows the present national executive director of MAS, Mahdi Bray, cheering at a public event when someone asks to hear from Hamas supporters.

The pastor’s decision will not necessarily prevent the proposed sale, as two parish trustees must vote against it to form a majority.

Fr. Fennessy offered his resignation at the height of the controversy, an archdiocesan spokesman told SILive.com, but he remains pastor and it is unknown whether a new pastor will be appointed by the archbishop.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic

Liturgical Calendar

April 21, 2014

Monday within the Octave of Easter

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 28:8-15


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Acts 2:14, 22-33
Gospel:: Mt 28:8-15

Saint of the Day

Holy Thursday »


Homily of the Day

Mt 28:8-15


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: