This story from Oslo, Norway, recounts an ecumenical effort gone awry: Norwegian soccer game between priests, imams cancelled over female factor:
A soccer game bringing Muslim imams and Christian priests “shoulder to shoulder” on a field in Norway was cancelled Saturday because the teams could not agree on whether women priests should take part.
The game was to mark the end of a day-long “Shoulder to Shoulder” conference in Oslo that encouraged religious dialogue between the two faiths.
Church of Norway spokesman Olav Fykse Tveit said differences began when the imams refused to play against a mixed-gender team of priests because it would have gone against their religious beliefs in avoiding close physical contact with women.
The Church of Norway initially responded by offering to play without its team’s women, but decided that was a bad idea when the team’s captain walked out in protest. A church spokesman summed up the episode with perhaps-merciful incomprehensibility:
Fykse Tveit said that, despite the differences on the field, “one very good lesson we’ve learned from this is that when we co-operate, we also enter each others boundaries, and that’s a positive thing.”
The soccer game story can be regarded as amusing, but what is happening elsewhere in Norway isn’t. Aftenposten reports on a criminal trial that is underway north of Oslo; defendant Arshad Mahmood is charged, among other things, with operating a torture chamber in which members of a rival, Morocco-based gang were imprisoned. In December, the incidence of rape in Oslo was reported to be soaring; Friday’s Aftenposten documents one such “brutal attack.” One suspects there is more going on here than even a coed soccer match could cure.
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