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September 10, 2010

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Catholic Democrats Calls on all Americans to Commit to The Free Practice of Religion and to Civility of Discourse in Wake of Quran Burning Threat, Ground Zero Controversy

Applauds Vatican, USCCB for Leadership on this Issue

Boston, Mass. -  Catholic Democrats is applauding the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for their leadership in denouncing the threat by a small evangelical community in Florida to burn Qurans, the sacred text of Islam, to mark the anniversary of the September 11th attacks and the controversy surrounding the Park51 Community Center in Lower Manhattan.

Catholic Democrats is calling on all Americans to commit to the spirit of the free practice of religion, a right established in the First Amendment to the Constitution.  The organization is also calling on all Americans, especially our political leaders and those aspiring to such responsibilities, to commit themselves to civility of discourse in the public square.  It is generally recognized that divisive debate has defined our national conversation in recent years, with damaging consequences to our democracy.

"In recent years, conservative leaders have increasingly enabled the kind of bigotry we are seeing now in Florida," said Dr. Patrick Whelan, president of Catholic Democrats.  "This is not just a matter of concern for Muslims, but for people of all faith.  Not long ago, Catholic churches and convents were similarly burned.  We urge all Americans to commit to the free practice of religion and to civility of discourse. We need to reject the political exploitation of faith by those such as Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin who profess to live by it."

On Wednesday, the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue issued a statement saying that such an effort would be an "outrageous and grave gesture against a book considered sacred by a religious community."  Additionally, on Thursday, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement saying, "All acts of intolerance aimed at a religious community should find no place in our world, let alone in our nation which is founded on the principle of religious freedom."

The Dove World Outreach Center planned to undertake this act on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of September 11th but postponed the event yesterday.  In addition to the Vatican and the USCCB, the proposed action has been denounced by a variety of individuals and organizations including Generals David Petraeus and Ray Odierno, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the Anti-Defamation League, the United Church of Christ, and Sojourners.

"As the Vatican said, the appropriate way for Christians to commemorate this somber day is to reflect on and condemn acts of violence, especially those done in the name of faith," said Steve Krueger, national director of Catholic Democrats.  "On Saturday - in the spirit of Christ - Catholics, Christians, all people of faith and good-will should pray for those who died and their families.  We should pray for a more just and peaceful world on Saturday rather than intentionally affront the millions of Muslims who live peacefully and productively in our country and across the world."

About Catholic Democrats
Catholic Democrats is an association of state-based groups representing a Catholic voice within the Democratic Party, and advancing a public understanding of the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching and its potential to help solve the broad range of problems confronting all Americans. For more information about Catholic Democrats please go to