CINCINNATI — Complaints and a request from the archbishop have led a Cincinnati Roman Catholic high school to drop plans for a Ramadan dinner to build goodwill with Muslims.
Kirsten MacDougal, president of Mother of Mercy school, says Archbishop Dennis Schnurr received "emotionally charged" emails, mostly from outside the area, and asked the girls' school to cancel its Friday night plans. The event instead will be held at a church parish center.
A spokesman for Schnurr tells The Cincinnati Enquirer the complaints centered around the school's partnership with the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The U.S. has linked the council to a terror financing case and the FBI won't work directly with its members.
Local Council on American-Islamic Relations officials say they work against terrorism and violence.
MacDougal said her school and the Archdiocese still support interfaith dialogue, especially with Muslim groups, but the closeness to the 10th anniversary of 9/11 plays a factor.“The fact that Mercy was co-hosting this Ramadan meal with the Council on American-Islamic Relations specifically had become too great a distraction from the positive intent of building relationships and understanding with our Muslim neighbors,” MacDougal wrote in her letter to staff.
“While the Archdiocese appreciates our good intentions, there is now some concern for the safety of those who would attend the meal due to the negative reaction this has garnered from some. As a result, the Archbishop has asked that we cancel our hosting the meal.”
Mother of Mercy’s parents and students Thursday disagreed about the school’s decision.
Some parents said they had read negative things about the national CAIR group and didn’t want Mercy associated with even the local group.
“I’m glad it’s canceled; it wasn’t a good thing,” said Kelly Jennings, a Mercy parent who lives in Bridgetown. “There were a lot of parents who were up in arms about it. … It would have really given Mercy a bad name.”
Casey Tegenkamp, a freshman from Miami Heights, was disappointed that the dinner won’t be held at the school, because she’d wanted to attend. She said she thinks it’s important for young people to understand other people’s faiths.
“We’ve got to know what other people’s religions are,” she said. “We need to know how other people think. If we don’t know, that might get us into trouble.”