March 5, 2002
His Excellency David Ivry
Ambassador of Israel
3514 International Drive
Washington, D.C. 20008
I welcome the decision of your government to cancel the proposed mosque adjacent to the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth and to reinstate the original plan for the plaza.
As you know, the construction of this mosque by a faction of the Islamic Movement has been an ongoing source of grave concern to the Holy See, Christian leaders in the Holy Land and Christian leaders throughout the world. Your government's decision, which is in accord with Israeli law, reflects an appreciation of the deep religious significance of the Basilica for Christians around the world and reassures us of the Israeli government's commitment to fulfill its responsibilities toward the Holy Places, particularly with regard to ensuring "the Status Quo."
Nazareth, like many other places in the Holy Land, is important for all people of faith. We have been particularly encouraged by the strong support given by the many Muslim and Jewish leaders who have understood why Christians consider the construction of the mosque in this location as a provocation and a hindrance to interfaith harmony. I hope that this wise decision will not be used to exacerbate dissension in the Holy Land, but will be an occasion to foster deeper understanding among people of all faiths and between faith communities and the Israeli government at a time so marred by conflict and violence.
Assuring you of my prayers, I am,
Bernard Cardinal Law
Chairman, Committee on International Policy
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops