October 22, 2004
Interim Prime Minister
c/o Iraq Mission
Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations
14 East 79th Street
New York, NY 10021
Dear Mr. Prime Minister:
On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I write to express our deepest concerns about the continuing targeted and deliberate violence being perpetrated upon Iraqi Christians by extremist elements in the most recent attacks against the five Christian churches. Fortunately, no one was killed or injured. We hope that these attacks will end so that Christians and other religious communities can take their rightful place within a peaceful Iraqi society.
These violent attacks are a direct threat to religious freedom and serve only to foment religious hostility and conflict. This growing trend of intolerance could further destabilize Iraq and jeopardize the democratic freedom you are working so hard to secure and that most Iraqis want and deserve. While violence has been inflicted on all religious communities in Iraq, the Christian community collectively is small and easily targeted for violent attacks. In these dire circumstances, the Christian community is under growing distress and a disproportionate number are leaving Iraq as refugees.
We urge you to do everything possible to end these terrorist attacks upon Christians and other religious communities. Religious freedom is vital to the future of a democratic Iraq.
We assure you and the people of Iraq of our prayers as you continue to strive to build a more democratic and peaceful Iraq.
Most Reverend John H. Ricard
Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee
International Policy Committee