By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) – The chairmen of three committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have joined in condemnation of plans by a small Florida Pentecostal church to burn the Quran on Sept. 11.

“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,” said a statement issued Sept. 9 by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta and Bishops William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., and Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y.

The three chair the USCCB committees on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; Domestic Justice and Human Development; and International Justice, respectively.

Cardinal Justin Rigali, interviewed the morning of Sept. 9 by KYW NewsRadio in Philadelphia, said, “We cannot build a world on disrespect and hatred. I am hoping that common sense and human decency will prevail.”{{more}}

In an afternoon interview with Fox 29 News in Philadelphia, the Cardinal further characterized the proposed Quran burning as having no justification.

“This is totally unjustified from every standpoint,” he said. “This goes contrary to human dignity … this is disrespect for religious values.” (Watch the full interview at

The U.S. bishops endorsed a statement on the planned Quran burning issued Sept. 8 by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue at the Vatican and voiced solidarity with a group of interfaith leaders who met in Washington Sept. 7 “to denounce categorically derision, misinformation and outright bigotry being directed against America’s Muslim community.”

The leader of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla. responded to the public outcry Sept. 10 by telling media sources that he had called the event off, and later modified the statement, saying the church was still considering whether it would call the event off.

In the Diocese of St. Augustine, Fla., where Gainesville is located, Bishop Victor B. Galeone wrote in a letter to the editor of the Gainesville Sun that Catholics should consider the plan by Dove center members “reprehensible.”

“The burning of another faith tradition’s sacred texts is diametrically opposed to the Catholic Church’s ongoing commitment to improving interreligious relations,” he said. “Furthermore, it represents a counter-witness to the Gospel message by engendering fear and hatred rather than the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves.”

Bishop Joseph N. Latino of Jackson, Miss., also criticized the “deeply unfortunate rise in anti-Islamic voices and actions throughout our country” and said the Sept. 11 anniversary “should be marked with prayers and actions of peace, not voices of hate and spanision.”

“The destruction of a copy of the (Quran) is an affront to all people of faith, and to society as a whole,” he added in a Sept. 8 statement. “It is also an affront to the Gospel message to love our neighbor as ourselves and in direct opposition to our Church’s efforts to build bridges of understanding and bring about a civilization of peace.”

The Catholic Standard and Times contributed to this report.