USCCB press release:
Archbishop Dolan thanks President Obama for efforts to promote religious tolerance in Egypt
WASHINGTON—On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan thanked President Obama for his efforts to protect religious minorities in Egypt.
In an October 14 letter to the President, Archbishop Dolan, president of the USCCB, asked that the U.S. government “continue to urge and insist that the Egyptian government take immediate and effective steps to promote religious tolerance within Egyptian society and to protect the human rights of all minorities, especially Christians.”
Archbishop Dolan’s letter followed an October 9 attack on Coptic Christians, “a horrific reminder of the vulnerability faced by many minorities in Egypt.”
The full text of Archbishop Dolan’s letter follows:
Dear Mr. President:
Thank you for your recent expression of concern about new attacks on Christians in Egypt. The escalation in violence in Cairo this past Sunday that left over 20 dead and close to 300 injured was a horrific reminder of the vulnerability faced by many minorities in Egypt. On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I want to express our deep concern that a pattern of violence against minorities, especially Christians, has emerged and a culture of impunity has allowed that violence to grow and spread. Certainly the bombing of a Coptic Church on New Year’s Day and subsequent attacks against other Christian churches are testament to a break down in the rule of law. This most recent violence occurred as Copts demonstrated in Cairo against the burning of a church near Aswan in late September and the lack of government protection for religious minorities.
We welcome your strong Presidential statement calling for “restraint on all sides so that Egyptians can move forward together to forge a strong and united Egypt.” We too mourn the loss of life and agree that “all people have the universal rights of peaceful protest and religious freedom.” At the time of the New Year’s Day attack on a Coptic Church, Pope Benedict XVI pointed to the urgent need for governments to adopt “effective measures for the protection of religious minorities.” The Holy Father was “profoundly saddened” by the most recent violence and prayed that Egyptian society “might enjoy true peace, based on justice and respect for the freedom and dignity of all citizens, … in particular those of minorities, for the benefit of national unity.”
On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I thank you for your efforts in this significant area and I ask that the U.S. government continue to urge and insist that the Egyptian government take immediate and effective steps to promote religious tolerance within Egyptian society and to protect the human rights of all minorities, especially Christians.
With hope for your continued attention to this urgent and important matter, I am,
Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan, President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops