[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”7137″ img_size=”500×281″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Pope Francis’ historic address to the U.S. Congress drew inspiration from two great Kentuckians, President Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Merton, the provocative Trappist monk from Gethsemani. Witnessing the pontiff’s speech in Congress were two noted Louisvillians, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Bishops, and Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader. Could there be a clearer invitation for the people of Kentucky to take up the discourse launched by the Pontiff on September 24, 2015?

The pope mentioned four American voices as symbols of our greatness; Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. Among the significant things that the pope said in reference to Merton was that he was, “above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.”

Two events this month in our city bring to mind the legacy of Thomas Merton, echoing the qualities called out by Pope Francis, namely the call for dialogue and openness to God.

Last week, vandals sprayed offensive epithets and images on the walls of the Islamic Center of Louisville, an act that Mayor Fischer called an affront to people of all faiths. On Friday afternoon, hundreds of people of goodwill, led by the mayor and members of the interfaith community, stood in solidarity with the Louisville Muslim community, and then together painted over the visual litter on the mosque walls. This solidarity was the result not only of the one incident, but also our community’s history of religious understanding fostered over the past two decades, not only by  our Center for Interfaith Relations but by other valued and like-minded organizations.

This weekend, the Louisville Orchestra will give two rare performances of Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass,” a 1971 theatrical production structured on the component parts of a Catholic Mass. It highlights spiritual inquiry and dialogue not only between Christians and Jews, but the establishment and the masses, the old sacred music forms and the new. As conductor Teddy Abrams explains, the tumultuous issues of the Seventies are as pertinent today as they were four decades ago. This weekend, the Louisville Orchestra takes on a production of such enormous scale and ambition that it has been offered twice in one city only once before, the opening productions of the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.  Congratulations Louisville Orchestra for offering art that encourages audiences to “open new horizons for the soul.”

It occurs to me that we have an opportunity to accept Pope Francis’s inspiring and provocative invitation to Congress, and through our elected officials, to us, to engage in new and meaningful dialogue and openness to God, as modeled by Kentucky’s own, Thomas Merton.

[/vc_column_text][vc_raw_html]JTNDaWZyYW1lJTIwZnJhbWVib3JkZXIlM0QlMjcwJTI3JTIwd2lkdGglM0QlMjc1MTIlMjclMjBoZWlnaHQlM0QlMjczMzAlMjclMjBzY3JvbGxhYmxlJTNEJTI3bm8lMjclMjBzcmMlM0QlMjdodHRwJTNBJTJGJTJGd3d3LmMtc3Bhbi5vcmclMkZ2aWRlbyUyRnN0YW5kYWxvbmUlMkYlM0YzMjgwNjMtMSUyRnBvcGUtZnJhbmNpcy1hZGRyZXNzLWpvaW50LW1lZXRpbmctY29uZ3Jlc3MlMjclM0UlM0MlMkZpZnJhbWUlM0U=[/vc_raw_html][vc_column_text]SARAH REED HARRIS
Managing Director of the Center for Interfaith Relations[/vc_column_text][vc_separator height_2=”10″ height=”10″ show_border=”yes_border”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]BERNSTEIN MASS SYMPOSIUM
Interfaith Panel Discussion with Teddy Abrams[/vc_column_text][vc_raw_html]


[/vc_raw_html][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]LOUISVILLE ISLAMIC CENTER VANDALISM
Interfaith Community Clean-Up[/vc_column_text][vc_raw_html]