WASHINGTON (August 21, 2003) -- In a statement released today, the chairman of the bishops' Migration Committee condemned Tuesday's bombing of the United Nations' headquarters in Baghdad and remembered the victims of the devastating blast as "tireless" and "selfless" champions of migrants and refugees.
The statement of Bishop Thomas G. Wenski, Coadjutor Bishop of Orlando, follows in its entirety:
"The horrific bombing of the United Nation"s mission in Baghdad yesterday took the lives of many innocent people and should be condemned as an attack against not only the United Nations but the Iraqi people.
"The death of Sergio Vieira de Mello is a tragic loss. During his life, he worked tirelessly to bring peace to war-torn nations and to end the suffering of peoples affected by war, especially refugees. His work with refugees in Southeast Asia and other world trouble spots will not be forgotten.
"Those who flee war and persecution also lost a friend and advocate yesterday with the death of Mr. Arthur Helton. Mr. Helton dedicated his life to the protection of the victims of war, first as director of the Refugee Project at the Lawyer"s Committee on Human Rights and most recently as a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. His commitment and dedication to the defense of basic human rights is to be emulated and the impact of his work will be felt for many years to come.
"I offer my prayers and condolences to the families and friends of Mr. Vieira de Mello and Mr. Helton. I also pray for all the victims of this senseless act and for Americans and Iraqis who have lost their lives in this conflict.
"May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace."