“Events in Libya and Egypt point to what is at stake. We need to be respectful of other religious traditions at the same time that we unequivocally proclaim that violence in the name of religion is wrong”. Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, Archbishop of New York and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, emphasized this on the occasion of the Conference on “International Religious Freedom: an Imperative for Peace and the Common Good”, held yesterday in Washington D.C. The Cardinal mentioned the climate of violence and mounting tension that has built up following the distribution of a video deemed blasphemous on the Prophet Muhammad and which led to the killing of the Ambassador of the United States in Libya and also to clashes in Egypt. Cardinal Dolan prayed especially for the diplomatic community and for its sensitive work for world peace.
The meeting which examined the difficult situation in which religious minorities live in various countries, was sponsored by the same Bishops' Conference, together with the Catholic University of America and Catholic Relief Service. The President of the American Bishops' Conference recalled that “the absence of religious freedom in countries around the world leads to terrible human suffering”, and that in the present situation “Christians are the religious group which suffers most from persecution on account of its faith. Many Christians”, Dolan noted, “experience daily affronts and often live in fear because of their pursuit of truth, their faith in Jesus Christ”. In this context, the Cardinal concluded by rallying the United States and the international community with a “call to action”, pointing out that “the first freedom, which we too often take for granted in our own nation, even as we are vigilant in its defence, is under often violent attack in other nations with terrible human consequences”.