The retired Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, D.C., Theodore McCarrick, and the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights' president Bill Donohue, have added their voices in opposition to a Florida pastor's plan to burn the Quran publicly on September 11, 2010. Both men agree that such actions misrepresent America and present a false image of Christianity.
While pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center says that his intention in burning the book is to raise “hard questions” about its content and the nature of Islam, Cardinal McCarrick and Bill Donohue – along with many representatives of other religions - have concurred with the sharp warnings expressed by General David Petraeus, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan.
General Petraeus stated on Tuesday that he believes a public burning of the Quran would endanger Americans abroad, particularly those serving in the military. Images of the planned event at the Dove World Outreach Center, Petraeus warned, would be used in propaganda intended to recruit terrorists and incite anti-American violence for years to come.
Speaking for the Catholic League, Bill Donohue compared the small evangelical group's planned actions to those of homosexual protestors, who burned a Bible in 1998 to protest an appearance of the conservative Catholic political figure Pat Buchanan.
The comparison by the Catholic League's president did not imply an equivalence of the Bible with the Quran, but rather suggested that both forms of protest were incoherent and irresponsible forms of “agitprop.” Donohue stressed that pastor Jones “must be unequivocally condemned” for actions that would only “inflame passions” and promote a “twisted understanding of Christianity.”
“There are plenty of legitimate ways to protest the wrongdoing that took place on September 11, 2001,” Donohue concluded. “Burning copies of the Koran is not one of them.”
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former Archbishop of Washington, D.C., voiced his own criticisms of the planned demonstration at a press conference for various religious leaders hosted by the Islamic Society of North America. Religious leaders, the cardinal said, “cannot stand by in silence when things like this are happening.”
Noting the contributions to the common good made by many non-violent Muslims in America, he said the burning of the Quran would be felt as a personal insult by many who are “playing a role in our society which is constructive and which is excellent.”
The cardinal emphasized the importance of not alienating Muslims through an incorrect representation of the Gospel message. Instead, he suggested, “I think we have to reach out to them, and say, 'Look, we're happy you're here. We love you.'”
The message that would be conveyed through the burning of the Quran, he stressed, would not correctly represent either the Christian faith or “the real America.”
America, the Cardinal remarked, should be known around the world not for opposition to a particular religion, but for protection of religious liberty, promotion of the common good, and a climate of love for one's neighbor. “America was not built on hatred,” he emphasized. “America was built on love.”