In this follow up to Should The Pope offer St. Maria’s of Alhambra to Islam, I want to consider what the Catholic church has to gain by offering St. Maria’s as an offering to interfaith worship.
The short answer is that The Church has peace to gain, with a start toward reconciliation among faiths, which need to come together rather than grow further apart. The long answer is that it is only through an unsolicited offer by The Catholic Church, in advance of pressure from outside events, that The Church can authentically make a gesture that other faiths can trust as an offering to peace. The act needs to take place prior to strife, for it to be clear that The Church’s hand was not forced in the matter – which it is not, but could seem so, should such an offering occur after an event of great distress. This means that it is the right moment for such an offering.
Open dialog between faiths is much needed, so that theoretical reconciliations can be reached, which promise to support a broader day to day acceptance of other faiths living together in the same community. There is no better way to reach a state in which reconciliation can be achieved than through a community of shared worship. Seeing and hearing and feeling those in prayer and worship inevitably makes the practice and people of other faith less alien, more akin to yourself and your own needs and fulfillment. And the setting at Alhambra is the most perfect given the history of intolerance in Spain and the history of Alhambra, not to mention its beauty.