Author Jordan Denari Duffner pointed out on Twitter some of the significant work Bishop Nelson Perez — soon to be archbishop of Philadelphia — has done in the area of combatting Islamaphobia.
Among other things, he issued the following statement on the “travel ban” that targeted Muslims:
In solidarity with my brother bishops who the lead the United States Conference of Bishops’ committees on migration, and religious liberty, and in working with our Muslim brothers and sisters in Northeast Ohio, I share this USCCB joint statement on the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the restriction of travel from several predominantly Muslim countries:
The travel ban targets Muslims for exclusion, which goes against our country’s core principle of neutrality when it comes to people of faith.
And last year, he sent this message at the conclusion of Ramadan:
As the Muslim community throughout Northeast Ohio begins the Eid al-Fitr celebrations, I wish to offer a greeting of peace and my congratulations on the conclusion of your monthlong vigil of fasting, prayer and works of mercy.
In a spirit of deep respect and friendship, I recall and offer the words of St. John Paul II who addressed Muslim religious leaders in 1999 by saying, “In today’s world where God is tragically forgotten, Christians and Muslims are called in one spirit of love to defend and always promote human dignity, moral values and freedom. The common pilgrimage to eternity must be expressed in prayer, fasting and charity, but also in joint efforts for peace and justice, for human advancement and the protection of the environment. By walking together on the path of reconciliation and renouncing in humble submission to the divine will any form of violence as a means of resolving differences, the two religions will be able to offer a sign of hope, radiating in the world the wisdom and mercy of that one God who created and governs the human family.”
Indeed, we have walked together in witness of this most recently as members of the Muslim community joined me and other interfaith representatives at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in a service for the Christian churches bombed in Sri Lanka and a Jewish synagogue attacked in Poway, California.
It is with a sense of solidarity and good will that I offer my personal prayerful best wishes during this time of celebration. May your lives give glory to the Almighty and bring serenity, joy and prosperity to all those around you.
Beyond all this, his Wikipedia biography suggests he is very much a “Francis Bishop,” with a distinct aroma of the sheep: educated in public schools, a graduate of a state university — Montclair State University — (who evidently did not study in Rome or get a doctorate degree) and a man who was for most of his life a parish priest, serving as a pastor around Philadelphia until just a few years ago.
Adding to that: his middle name is Jesus.