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Fr. Day Pledges Continued Interfaith Undertanding Effort (March 19, 2010)

DETROIT – Fr. Jeffrey Day assured area religious leaders on March 10 of his own and Archbishop Allen Vigneron’s commitment to continue the work of fostering respect and cooperation between the Catholic Church and other faith communities.
“Archbishop Vigneron wants to continue what Cardinal (Adam) Maida did, what the late Fr. John West and Msgr. (Patrick) Halfpenny did,” Fr. Day said, referring to his predecessors as ecumenical/interfaith advisor for the Archdiocese of Detroit.
Robert Delaney | The Michigan Catholic Imam Stephen Mustapha Elturk, of the Islamic Organization of North America in Warren, converses with Fr. Jeffrey Day, ecumenical/interfaith advisor for the Archdiocese of Detroit, at Sacred Heart Major Seminary March 10.
Archbishop Vigneron named Fr. Day to the position in January, in addition to his continuing duties as pastor of St. Sebastian Parish in Dearborn. Fr. Day spoke of his long admiration for the ecumenical and interfaith work of Pope John Paul XXIII during his remarks at a get-acquainted recepti on at Sacred Heart Major Seminary.
“One of the things I admire about John XXIII is how he forged strong relationships with people of faith no matter where his assignments took him,” he said, referring to the pontiff’s career as a Vatican diplomat even before his election as pope.
And referring to the generally good ecumenical and interfaith relations prevailing in metro Detroit, Fr. Day added, “While those of us gathered here have our theological differences, we can be grateful that we can come together in the spirit of mutual respect.”
And he expressed the desire that people of different faiths in this area would continue “to live together in peace.” The reception was attended by about 20 local faith leaders, including representatives of other Christian faith communities and Muslims and Jews.
Imam Stephen Elturk, one of the Muslim clerics at the reception, said, “Generally speaking, interfaith efforts have improved quite a bit over the years.”
Whereas the early years of interfaith dialogue tended to involve each participant primarily seeking to express what his own faith community believes, the imam said the dialogue is now more focused on “trying to solve issues in the community and what we can do together.” “As Fr. Day said, regardless of our theological differences, we should put that aside and concentrate on ways we can work together,” said Imam Elturk, of the Islamic Organization of North America in Warren.
Catholic-Jewish relations are going very well in the Detroit area, said Robert Cohen, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council.
“In the five years I’ve worked here, I’ve been very impressed by the close and affectionate relations between the two communities,” he said.
As to ecumenical relations – that is, among Christians – there was also a positive assessment given by faith leaders at the reception.
Metropolitan Nicholas, the local Greek Orthodox bishop, said Catholic-Orthodox relations locally have “always been very gracious” and characterized by a “mutual spirit of love and respect.”
The metropolitan said he had known Archbishop Vigneron from his earlier time in Detroit as an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese and attended his installation as archbishop. “I look on him as a brother,” he said, adding that he intends to discuss possible joint projects with him.”
Episcopal Bishop Wendell Gibbs said relations between the local Episcopal diocese and the Archdiocese of Detroit have been good. “I look forward to getting to know the archbishop,” he added.