WASHINGTON (November 7, 2001) -- The recent murder of innocent Christians at worship in Pakistan has prompted letters of condolence and condemnation from the leadership of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In a letter dated November 2 and released today, Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston, President of the USCCB, urged President Bush to raise the issue of security for religious minorities in Pakistan with that country's president.
"In your forthcoming meeting with President Musharraf, may I ask that you stress with him the absolute necessity for his government's security forces to ensure complete and effective protection for the vulnerable Christian minorities of his country," Bishop Fiorenza wrote.
Together, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism account for approximately 3 percent of Pakistan's population.
Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law, Chairman of the USCCB's International Policy Committee, sent letters the same day to Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore, Pakistan, and to Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Maleeha Lodhi.
In his letter to Archbishop Saldanha, Cardinal Law deplored the "senseless violence unleashed on the innocent worshipers" on October 28, and deplored "this act of sheer terrorism that can have no basis in any religious belief."
Cardinal Law expressed "the revulsion which we in the Catholic community in the United States feel over the tragic act of intolerance" in which 16 men, women and children died. He reminded the ambassador that the Pakistani government had been warned against such terrorist attacks and lamented that the threats had been carried out.
"I do not minimize the enormous difficulties facing your President and his government at this time, but I do trust now that genuinely effective measures will be taken to guarantee the security of all citizens, especially the vulnerable Christian minorities of Pakistan," Cardinal Law said.
The full texts of the three letters are available on the Web at: