WASHINGTON (August 13, 2004) — In separate letters to the Chaldean Patriarch, the Interim Prime Minister of Iraq, and the U.S. Secretary of State, the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed horror and sadness at the bombing of Christian Churches in Baghdad and Mosul.
Bishop Wilton D. Gregory said these tragic events must not be allowed to destroy a spirit of tolerance among Muslims and Christians.
Bishop Gregory wrote to His Beatitude Emmanuel III Delly, Chaldean Patriarch, Iyad Allawi, Interim Prime Minister of Iraq, and to Colin L. Powell, U.S. Secretary of State.
"We are enormously sorry that after so many years of suffering that the Iraqi people, Christians and Muslims, are forced to suffer this way," Bishop Gregory told the Patriarch. "We pray that God will soon deliver you all from the scourge of terrorism and, following your request, we pray too for those who undertake such hateful acts."
"Of course, the bombings also provoke anxiety over the future of religious liberty and for the security of Iraq's Christians as political conditions evolve," Bishop Gregory continued. "We hope that the traditional amity between Muslims and Christians will prevail. Even as the leaders of your country work to assure religious freedom and security for all, be assured of our solidarity with you, the Church and all Iraqis of good will."
In his letter to Prime Minister Allawi, Bishop Gregory said: "I know you are proud of Iraq's long tradition of Muslims and Christians living together in peace. I urge you to do all in your power to halt such acts of terrorism obviously intended to stir animosity among people who have lived in harmony. These terrible acts were aimed at Iraqi Christians, but our condemnation would be equally severe if the targets had been Muslim places of worship."
"Our prayers are with the people of Iraq—Muslims and Christians—as they resist violence and seek a peaceful road to a sovereign democracy."
In the letter to Secretary of State Powell, Bishop Gregory urged that the United States and its military and diplomatic representatives in Iraq make every effort to preserve religious peace and to oppose vigorously those who would pursue their evil political objectives through religious terrorism.
"The Catholic Church in the United States stands in solidarity with her Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq and with the overwhelming majority of Iraqis who seek a peaceful Iraq characterized by political and religious harmony," Bishop Gregory said.
Bishop Gregory's letters were sent August 6.