WASHINGTON (December 31, 2003) -- The U.S. bishops voiced concern over the killing of Archbishop Michael Courtney, Apostolic Nuncio to Burundi, in letters to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State, and Archbishop Simon Ntamwana of Gitega, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Burundi.
His death in the war-torn nation occurred amidst an on going civil war marked by extensive bloodshed.
In a letter to Cardinal Sodano, Bishop Wilton Gregory, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, noted Archbishop Courtney's work for peace.
"His violent death comes as a result of his unflagging commitment to justice and peace in a country torn by civil strife," Bishop Gregory said. "Please be assured of our prayers and thoughts for this generous and faithful minister of peace, and for his family. In addition, please know of our prayers for justice and the cessation of violence in Burundi."
Writing to Archbishop Ntamwana, Bishop Gregory noted the effect of Archbishop Courtney's death.
"His commitment to justice and peace serves as an inspiration for all," said Bishop Gregory. "His violent death is a tragedy not only for the Church in Burundi but also for the Universal Church."
Please be assured of our prayers that the Church and the people of Burundi draw strength from the witness of Archbishop Courtney's life, and may they stand firm in their commitment to pursue the paths of non-violence and peace," he added. " The Catholic Bishops of the United States renew their commitment to accompany you on this most sacred journey."