Thursday, March 15, 2007


Cologne, Germany (dpa) - When the Rev. Franz Meurer stands at the altar this Sunday in his priestly vestments, he'll say to the congregation: "Today's collection is for the construction of the big new mosque in Ehrenfeld."

Meurer, 55, is not expecting protests. Both the board of Cologne's St. Theodore Catholic Church and the parish council have unanimously approved the action.

"It's only natural that we're helping them," he said of the Muslims living in a city that is one of the main centres of Catholicism in Germany.

After the special collection was announced last Sunday, several parishioners asked if it was really necessary - considering, for instance, that four young Turks beat a family man into a coma on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday.

"I said, 'Hey, people, think about it, will you? We'll be supporting the sensible ones'," Meurer recalled. "That's not so dumb."

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