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Cardinal McCarrick, US bishops’ official denounce bigotry against Islam

September 08, 2010

A cardinal, a US bishops’ conference official, and 32 other religious leaders issued a statement on September 7 denouncing “categorically the derision, misinformation and outright bigotry being directed against America’s Muslim community.”

“In advance of the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, we announce a new era of interfaith cooperation,” said the signatories, who include Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Father James Massa, executive director of the Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The statement continues:

In recent weeks, we have become alarmed by the anti-Muslim frenzy that has been generated over the plans to build an Islamic community center and mosque at the Park 51 site near Ground Zero in New York City. We recognize that the vicinity around the former World Trade Center, where 2,752 innocent lives were cruelly murdered on 9/11, remains an open wound in our country, especially for those who lost loved ones. Persons of conscience have taken different positions on the wisdom of the location of this project, even if the legal right to build on the site appears to be unassailable. Our concern here is not to debate the Park 51 project anew, but rather to respond to the atmosphere of fear and contempt for fellow Americans of the Muslim faith that the controversy has generated.

We are profoundly distressed and deeply saddened by the incidents of violence committed against Muslims in our community, and by the desecration of Islamic houses of worship. We stand by the principle that to attack any religion in the United States is to do violence to the religious freedom of all Americans. The threatened burning of copies of the Holy Qu’ran this Saturday is a particularly egregious offense that demands the strongest possible condemnation by all who value civility in public life and seek to honor the sacred memory of those who lost their lives on September 11. As religious leaders, we are appalled by such disrespect for a sacred text that for centuries has shaped many of the great cultures of our world, and that continues to give spiritual comfort to more than a billion Muslims today.

We are committed to building a future in which religious differences no longer lead to hostility or division between communities. Rather, we believe that such diversity can serve to enrich our public discourse about the great moral challenges that face our nation and our planet. On the basis of our shared reflection, we insist that no religion should be judged on the words or actions of those who seek to pervert it through acts of violence; that politicians and members of the media are never justified in exploiting religious differences as a wedge to advance political agendas or ideologies; that bearing false witness against the neighbor—something condemned by all three of our religious traditions—is inflicting particular harm on the followers of Islam, a world religion that has lately been mischaracterized by some as a “cult.”

“I fear the story of this animosity will be taken to be the story of the real America,” Cardinal McCarrick added during a press conference. “It’s not. America was not built on hatred, but on love.” Such animosity, he added, is “affecting so many good people who have brought Islam to this country.”


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Show 8 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Sep. 09, 2010 5:28 AM ET USA

    In regard to Islam, Cardinal McCarrick and his cohorts should read a little history,e.g. "Islam at the Gates" by Diane Moczar, or even Belloc.

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Sep. 08, 2010 10:35 PM ET USA

    The only violence and threats of violence in this stupid global publicity for Terry Jones' stunt is coming from Muslims. Why does this statement refer to "the incidents of violence committed against Muslims in our community"? Where is there anti-Muslim violence at the same level as anti-Christian, anti-Hindu, and anti-Buddhist violence elsewhere?

  • Posted by: Kathie - Sep. 08, 2010 10:33 PM ET USA

    Had the opportunity to hear Mr. Bill Federer, nationally acclaimed expert on Islam. He proved through his extensive research that Islam is hardly a religion of peace. Historical events prove that Islam is a religious movement, a political movement and a military movement. This is not a religion of peace. Perhaps Archbishop McCarrick needs a history lesson: Archbishop is one of the reasons so many Catholics are drifting away traditional Catholic teachings.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 08, 2010 8:08 PM ET USA

    The Koran, the life of Mohammed, the Hadith, the history of Islam, and the current situation all point to this: jihad is NOT purely spiritual; discrimination and even killing of infidels is required by Islam; warfare is viewed as a legitimate tool of conversion; polygamy and child brides are authorized; and Muslims may lie to infidels. Does any of this matter?

  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Sep. 08, 2010 7:18 PM ET USA

    I live in Gainesville where this bonfire is set to take place and while i don't agree with it, I am shocked by the worldwide outrage directed at this small ecclesial community of maybe 50 people when worldwide so much vicious cruelty and violence has been done in the name of Islam. Pastor Terry has his heart in the right place even if he is misguided. He wants to convert the Muslims and save their souls. How many Catholic priests and prelates even care out saving souls anymore?

  • Posted by: rpp - Sep. 08, 2010 2:12 PM ET USA

    Hmm, I wonder what they would have said about the conversion of the Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople from the Patriarch's Cathedral to an Islamic Mosque after the Seljuk Turks defeated the Eastern Roman Empire.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 08, 2010 1:55 PM ET USA

    So Catholic leaders signed on to a statement calling the Koran a "sacred text"? I think this Koran-burning is inopportune and extremely imprudent, but not because I have any illusions that it's a "sacred text" that's being torched.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 08, 2010 12:05 PM ET USA

    It's too bad that a "...cardinal, a US bishops’ conference official, and 32 other religious leaders" have not yet "issued a statement...denouncing “categorically the derision, misinformation and outright bigotry being directed against America’s" Catholic "community.” Especially from many progressive (sic) Catholics on a regular basis and from even nominally Catholic publications.