Vatican Protests "Outrageous" Qur'an Burning Plan

Calls for Respect, Protection for Other Religions

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 8, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue is protesting the “outrageous and grave” proposal of a man to hold a “Qur’an Burning Day” on Saturday.

Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, said that he wants to publicly burn a Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, on Saturday’s anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks by Muslim fundamentalists.

The Pontifical council stated in its English-language communiqué that “these deplorable acts of violence, in fact, cannot be counteracted by an outrageous and grave gesture against a book considered sacred by a religious community.”

“Each religion, with its respective sacred books, places of worship and symbols, has the right to respect and protection,” it stated.

On the occasion of the Sept. 11 anniversary, the council affirmed, we should instead “offer our deep sentiments of solidarity with those who were struck by these horrendous terrorist attacks.”

“To this feeling of solidarity we join our prayers for them and their loved ones who lost their lives,” it added.

As well, the council called on “each religious leader and believer” to “renew the firm condemnation of all forms of violence, in particular those committed in the name of religion.”

The communiqué quoted a 1999 address of John Paul II to the ambassador of Pakistan: “Recourse to violence in the name of religious belief is a perversion of the very teachings of the major religions.”

It also referenced the words of Benedict XVI in a 2006 audience with the ambassador of Morocco: “Violence as a response to offences can never be justified, for this type of response is incompatible with the sacred principles of religion.”

Catholic leaders worldwide are joining with U.S. officials to protest Jones’ initiative, calling for interreligious respect and expressing concern that Christian minority communities and Americans abroad will be unjustly attacked in recompense.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, former archbishop of Washington, said in a press conference that this initiative does not correctly represent Christianity nor the “real America.”

He underlined the need for an authentic Christian attitude of reaching out to Muslims in love.

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