Detroit’s new archbishop reaches out over breakfast

bilde.jpgwide range of religious and civic leaders met Monday with the new archbishop of Detroit, saying they hope he continues to develop interfaith relationships
Allen Vigneron’s outreach was especially well-received by a local Jewish leader given the controversy last month over Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to lift the excommunication of an English bishop who denies the Holocaust.

It was the first major meeting for Vigneron outside the Catholic Church since he took over on Wednesday from Cardinal Adam Maida.

The breakfast at the Westin Book Cadillac hotel featured about 100 leaders from metro Detroit’s Jewish, Muslim, Chaldean, Arab, African-American, Greek and mainline Protestant communities. Imam Hassan Qazwini, head of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, delivered the invocation, and Rabbi Joseph Krakoff, senior rabbi at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, read from the book of Genesis. Detroit Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. also spoke, welcoming Vigneron back to the state in which he was born.

During his talk, Vigneron stressed the importance of religion in underpinning societal morality, and concepts of rights and equality.

“He seemed to be a very kind, genuine, thoughtful, smart man,” Krakoff said. “We got a friend in the church, and he’s a got a friend in the Jewish community.”

Vigneron also stated the church’s antiabortion view and how it relates to the idea of equality.

“I have the hope that those who disagree with me on this matter will … eventually be led by the inherent logic of these virtues to see what appears so clear to me,” Vigneron said.

The Rev. Oscar King III, pastor of Northwest Unity Baptist Church and president of the Council of Baptist Pastors, spoke at the breakfast.

“Even though we may be black and Baptist … the Catholic Church takes care and provides a whole lot of services for our residents,” King said after the meeting. “We eagerly join forces with him.”