November 2, 2001
Most Reverend Lawrence Saldanha
Archbishop of Lahore
Chairman, Commission for Justice and Peace
P.O. Box #175
Dear Archbishop Saldanha,
We were deeply saddened and shocked to learn of the senseless violence that was unleashed on the innocent worshipers at St. Dominic's Church in Bahawalpur, South Punjab last Sunday, October 28th. With all people of good will, including so many of our Muslim brothers and sisters, we deplore this act of sheer terrorism that can have no basis in any religious belief. We call upon the authorities to do all in their power to bring those responsible to justice.
In your 18th September 2001 letter to the President, General Pervez Musharraf, you warned that extremist elements who oppose the government's decision to cooperate with the United States and the Charter of the United Nations, "are bound to indulge in acts of terrorism within Pakistan." "We fear," you wrote, "that their first targets may be the Christian Community thus endangering the lives and properties of our people."
I pray that this tragic event will result in the government's firm decision to provide truly effective and complete protection to the threatened Christian minority, both Protestant and Catholic, in Pakistan. As a further expression of our concern, I have today written to Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, and the President of our Conference, Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, has also communicated the same concerns to President Bush in light of his forthcoming meeting with President Musharaf. Copies of both letters are enclosed.
In closing, I assure you of our prayers for the well-being and the peace of the people of Pakistan.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Archbishop of Boston
Chairman, Committee on International Policy
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops