WASHINGTON (March 7, 2002) -- The President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Chairman of the USCCB International Policy Committee have welcomed the Israeli government's decision to cancel plans for a proposed mosque adjacent to the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth.
"The construction of this mosque by a faction of the Islamic Movement has been an ongoing source of grave concern to the Holy See, Christian leaders in the Holy Land and Christian leaders throughout the world," said Bishop Wilton D. Gregory of Belleville (IL), USCCB President, in a statement released today. "The decision, which is in accord with Israeli law, reflects an appreciation of the deep religious significance of the Basilica for Christians around the world and reassures us of the Israeli government's commitment to fulfill its responsibilities toward the Holy Places, particularly with regard to ensuring 'the Status Quo.'"
In a nearly identical letter to the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Cardinal Bernard Law noted the "strong support" offered by Muslim and Jewish leaders who have understood the concerns of Christians about the mosque's construction.
"I hope that this wise decision will not be used to exacerbate dissension in the Holy Land, but will be an occasion to foster deeper understanding among people of all faiths and between faith communities and the Israeli government at a time so marred by conflict and violence," said Cardinal Law, Chairman of the USCCB International Policy Committee.