Most Reverend John H. Ricard
Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee
Chairman: International Policy Committee
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
October 31, 2005
We protest in the strongest possible terms the recent remarks of President Mahmoud Ahmandinejad of Iran calling for the destruction of the State of Israel. Such declarations by a head of state undermine the quest for peace and threaten the stability of an already tense region.
We support the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security. We also support the right of Palestinians to an independent and viable state. Israelis and Palestinians deserve the support and encouragement of their neighbors as they struggle for a just peace.
It must be clear. A decent and just future for the Palestinians cannot be advanced without clear recognition of the state of Israel and a commitment to its security. Likewise, a secure future for Israelis depends upon justice for the Palestinians, including a secure state of their own.
President Ahmandinejad comments fail to recognize that the fates of the peoples of the Middle East are all linked. Leaders of the region should reject violent rhetoric and instead focus constructively on the significant challenges to justice and peace that exist in and between countries throughout the region.