Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick
Chairman, Committee on International Policy
UNITED STATES CATHOLIC CONFERENCE
I extend to the people of Jerusalem and of Israel our profound condolences on the death of their fellow citizens in yesterday's bombings in Jerusalem. We pray for the recovery of the survivors and for the families of the victims. May the slain rest in the arms of God.
The triple bombing in Jerusalem's Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall was a reprehensible act of terrorism. Nothing can justify random acts of terror against innocent civilians. Hamas deserves condemnation for its campaign of terror bombing, and its militants should be unreservedly repudiated by the Palestinian people and their leaders.
The pledge of the Palestinian Authority in the wake of the bombing to cooperate fully with Israeli security is a welcome development. Concerted efforts to root out terrorism are very much needed; and decisive steps must be taken to avoid any appearance of giving comfort and encouragement to terrorists.
We urge political authorities and civic leaders on both sides to refrain from acts which risk inflaming popular opinion or degrading or harming members of the other group and to endeavor to build a common future with practical measures which contribute to a life of peace for both peoples.
In particular, we urge that the Israeli government abstain from the practice of extended closure of the West Bank and Gaza. Lengthy closures do not prevent terrorism, they inflict enormous suffering on innocent people, and they stoke the resentments which undermine the prospects for peace.
Since it has been announced that Secretary of State Madeline Albright will be going to the Middle East as scheduled, we call for prayers for the success of her mission.
We ask U.S. Catholics to pray God most fervently for a quick end to this cycle of violence in Israel, the Palestinian territories and Lebanon, and for genuine progress in the peace process.