Letter to Indonesian Ambassador on Violence Against Christians

June 30, 2000 

His Excellency Dorodjatun Kuntjoro-Jakti
Ambassador of Indonesia
2020 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036 

Dear Mr. Ambassador, 

I write to express my deepest concern, and that of the Catholic Bishops of the United States, over the rapidly worsening inter-communal strife and the widespread destruction and killings presently being perpetrated by extremist forces in the Moluccan Islands. 

According to reliable sources, recent days have seen a marked increase in what church leaders there describe as "an organized cold-blooded murder of innocent people." It is said that some local Muslim leaders have even openly called for the extermination of "the Christian infidels," and that thousands of armed men have come to the area supposedly "to cleanse the Moluccas of all Christians." Many hundreds have been killed, churches and mosques burned, and Indonesian army troops appear either to have taken no action to stop the militants' attacks or have even joined in the violence. 

Just this week, Pope John Paul II condemned the "repeated and bloody attacks by Muslim extremists against Christian villagers" and renewed his "heartfelt appeal for this savage violence to be brought to an end." Earlier this month, in welcoming Indonesia's new ambassador to the Vatican, he stressed that mutual respect is the only firm foundation of national unity and called on all Indonesians to allow their religious, racial and cultural differences to enrich each other and enliven the national community. "Only when the dignity of the person is safeguarded can there be genuine development and lasting peace," he said.

I ask you, Mr. Ambassador, to communicate these concerns to your government with the urgent request that steps be taken immediately to bring this shameful and lawless violence under control. 

With expressions of my deep personal affection for your great nation and its people, and with assurances of my prayers that peaceful relations and mutual respect among Christians and Muslims will return to the Moluccas, I remain 

Sincerely yours, 

Bernard Cardinal Law
Archbishop of Boston
Chairman, Committee on International Policy
United States Catholic Conference