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Letter to the Secretary of State on the Middle East

 
November 22, 2000

The Honorable Madeleine Albright
Secretary of State
Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Madam Secretary:

I am writing to convey to you a message on the Middle East approved by the Catholic Bishops of the United States at their annual meeting last week.

In their message, the bishops are clear that the current violence must end and the peace process must be revived, so that the Israeli and Palestinian peoples may come to an agreed basis for a just and equitable peace. The bishops also are clear about the dangers inherent in efforts by extremists to use anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, and anti-Christian acts to incite hatred and conflict.

I recognize and applaud the tireless work by you and others in our government to revive the peace process. With my brother bishops, I pray that the U.S. role will be truly balanced, will not acquiesce to unilateral actions which undermine negotiations, and will respond with respect to the legitimate claims and expectations of both parties.

With respect to Lebanon, we would hope that the United States would work energetically for the withdrawal of Syrian troops and the restoration of full sovereignty to that country, which has suffered so much in the past two decades.

Finally, in a situation where we all must work to avoid inflaming religious animosities, we are very concerned about the decision of the Israeli government to allow the construction of a mosque in Nazareth on land adjacent to the Church of the Annunciation to proceed. This action has been taken despite repeated appeals by Pope John Paul II and Christian leaders in the Holy Land, as well as many Muslim leaders. For Christians, this is not merely a minor matter of local politics but is one which could have serious implications for the future of the Holy Places and for the Christian communities of the Holy Land.

Thank you for your attention to our concerns about these matters. I will continue to pray for the success of your efforts to end the violence and to bring a just peace to the Holy Land.

Sincerely yours,

Bernard Cardinal Law
Archbishop of Boston
Chairman,
Committee on International Policy


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