Bishop of Orlando
Chairman: Committee on International Policy
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
February 24, 2006
We are deeply saddened by the horrible attack on the Al Askariya Mosque-the Golden Mosque of Samarra, one of the most sacred religious sites in Shia Islam. We extend our prayers and condolences to the people of Iraq at this time of dismaying loss. As we have consistently condemned past attacks on Christian religious sites and communities, we now strongly condemn this heinous terrorist attack on the Golden Mosque. We are also alarmed and deeply disturbed by retaliatory attacks on other mosques and the loss of life that followed the attack on the Golden Mosque.
Deliberately targeting religious sites and communities is reprehensible and dangerous. We strongly condemn terrorist attacks wherever they occur. Terrorism can never be morally justified no matter what the cause. Destroying religious sites is especially reprehensible as it seeks to damage the core of peoples culture, belief and community. It is an affront to God and all people of faith. Attacks on holy sites can only add to the insecurity, division and misery of the people of Iraq and risk further violence and destabilization. As Pope Benedict XVI said in his recently released encyclical letter, Deus Caritas Est, only a complete abandonment to Gods will can prevent man from being demeaned and save him from falling prey to the teaching of fanaticism and terrorism.
We will continue to support efforts to end the violence and to work toward a responsible transition in Iraq. We pray for the victims of the recent violence and their families. We pray that calm and peace will take hold within Iraq and that all will be able to live their lives and practice their faith with mutual respect and security.