I’ve seen lots of response around the blogs to my blog entries on Cardinal McCarrick’s praying to Allah. In general, they’ve either focused on whether someone like me should deign to criticize a bishop, on whether the Muslim concept of God is based on a pagan moon god, on whether Arab Christians use the world “Allah” in their prayers, or even on whether Muslims worship the same God as Christians and Jews. They’re all missing the point.
For one thing, as I’ve said before, Cardinal McCarrick is neither Arabic, nor speaking Arabic, nor addressing an Arab Christian audience. He was addressing a mixed Muslim/Catholic audience in attendance at an event at a Catholic university. (In fact, the Catholic University of America.) My point isn’t that a Catholic, or Catholic bishop of any rite, should never invoke “Allah.” It’s the context in which he should do so.
It’s also not just about Cardinal McCarrick, but a trend I see among American bishops and even priests at large. Let me give an example. Thirty-five weeks a year, NASCAR holds a stock car race. And with NASCAR having its roots in the old-fashioned red states, every race begins with the singing of the national anthem and a prayer. At 33 of those races, the prayer is given by a Protestant minister, usually evangelical or fundamentalist, and every one of those prayers invokes the name of Jesus. But twice per year, at the races held in Loudon, New Hampshire, the prayer is given by a Catholic bishop (I suspect the owner of the track is himself Catholic). Rarely does the prayer given by the Catholic bishop mention the name of Jesus.