WASHINGTON (July 6, 2000) -- In a letter to the Indonesian Ambassador here, Cardinal Bernard Law expressed the Catholic Bishops' deep concern over the murder of Christians and widespread destruction of property by Muslim extremist forces in the Moluccan Islands.
He called on the Ambassador to urge his government to "bring this shameful and lawless violence under control."
Cardinal Law, Archbishop of Boston, is Chairman of the Committee on International Policy, United States Catholic Conference. His letter to Ambassador Dorodjatun Kuntjoro-Jakti was dated June 30.
Noting what church leaders describe as "an organized cold-blooded murder of innocent people," Cardinal Law cited reliable reports of some local Muslim leaders calling for the extermination of "the Christian infidels." Thousands of armed men have come to the area supposedly "to cleanse the Moluccas of all Christians." Many hundreds have been killed, churches and mosques burned, while Indonesian army troops appear either to have taken no action to stop the militants' attacks or have even joined in the violence.
Cardinal Law noted that earlier this week, Pope John Paul II condemned the "repeated and bloody attacks by Muslim extremists against Christian villagers" and renewed his "heartfelt appeal for the savage violence to be brought to an end." In welcoming Indonesia's new ambassador in June, the Pope stressed that mutual respect is the only firm foundation of national unity and called on all Indonesians to allow their religious, racial and cultural differences to enrich the national community. "Only when the dignity of the person is safeguarded can there be genuine development and lasting peace," he said.
Cardinal Law concluded by expressing affection for the great nation of Indonesia and its people and prayers that peaceful relations and mutual respect between Christians and Muslims will return to the Moluccas.
The Moluccan Islands, formerly known as the Spice Islands, were colonized by the Dutch in the 15th and 16th centuries.