THE CATHOLIC Archbishop of New York has urged moderate Muslim leaders speaking out against Islamic State extremism to look at the stances bishops' in Ireland took during the Troubles.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan said key influential Muslim figures often express their views on extremist groups such as Islamic State privately but need to be encouraged to express those views publicly.
In Mullingar, Co Westmeath, where the Irish-American prelate was guest of honour for the 75th anniversary celebrations of the consecration of Christ the King Cathedral, he said that when there was an IRA atrocity the Irish bishops were "extraordinarily brave in saying the IRA do not represent us, and that is what we need our Islamic leaders to say today."
Cardinal Dolan, whom Time Magazine named as one of the '100 Most Influential People in the World' in 2012, told the Irish Independent, "We do not believe that these extremists and fanatics who are literally beheading people speak for Islam any more than the radical IRA did for Catholicism."
The 64 year old, who is regarded as a possible future pope, also stood over his support for next year's St Patrick's Day parade in New York which has decided to allow a gay group to march for the first time.
The move is aimed at defusing the row which erupted last March over the exclusion of gay banners, a decision which caused Guinness, the main sponsors, to pull out.
Cardinal Dolan was named last week as the grand marshal of the 254th St Patrick's Day parade next March.
He said that he trusted the decision made by the organisers of the parade to allow a group representing gay staff at NBC television company parade.
The cardinal said nobody had asked him about the decision and he didn't expect to be asked.
However, he added, "I do bristle when I hear people say this is radical because gays were never allowed in the St Patrick's Day parade - that is mullarkey. Gays have always been allowed in the St Patrick's Day parade."
He added: "If I ever found out that anybody was excluded from the St Patrick's Day parade, I myself would not go."
The senior cleric explained that previously the only visible identification participants could give was their Irish identity and that applied to everybody.
"For some reason the St Patrick's Day parade committee seems willing to change that" he said, adding "I've learned that they are very wise people and I would trust their decision."
In his homily to a packed Mullingar cathedral, he described hope as the outstanding characteristic of the Irish Church.
The cardinal, who led the review of Irish seminaries in 2011 as part of Pope Benedict's visitation to the Irish Church, also paid tribute to the "steady stream of priests" the Church in Ireland provided in the past.
He praised a past archbishop of his home diocese of St Louis, Cardinal Joseph Glennon, who was born and raised in Ballinabrackey in Kinnegad and preached at the opening of Mullingar cathedral in 1939.
Earlier on Sunday morning, the Cardinal planted a tree in the grounds of the cathedral to mark the jubilee, watched by his former primary teacher, Irish-born Sr Mary Bosco Daly.
Cardinal Dolan credits Sr Mary and the Irish Mercy Sisters who set out from Drogheda in 1957 to run the Holy Infant Parish School in Ballwin, Missouri, with providing him with the initial religious formation which led to his vocation to the priesthood.