WINDSOR, Ont. — The pastor of the Orthodox Christian church to which Fadia Ibrahim belongs is not endorsing her claims that her Virgin Mary statue is miraculous.
“I have nothing to do with that,” said Rev. John Ayoub of the St. Ignatius of Antioch Church in Windsor.
“I can’t agree with whatever she is saying.”
But Ayoub said he has personally investigated the matter, spoken privately with Ibrahim at length, and he does not believe the statue is miraculous. “We don’t go by the mob. We don’t go by propaganda,” he said.
Ayoub did not want his thoughts on the statue to be made public.
“I don’t want to be in trouble. I don’t believe in that at all, but … I don’t want to hurt the feelings of anybody,” he said. “They (might) come here and fight me.”
The priest said he has already received angry phone calls. “A week ago, a lady — I never gave her my number — she called me and said, ‘Don’t you believe?’ And she started screaming at me.”
Ayoub said that Ibrahim remains a beloved parishioner, but the church is not responsible for her, nor her statue. “If you want to believe her, you are free to believe her.”
On Wednesday afternoon, a statement by Ayoub was posted on the church’s website. It pointed out that the Antiochian Orthodox Christian church does not recognize nor worship statues — it only recognizes the veneration of holy icons in two-dimensional paintings.