The Vatican has issued a strong condemnation today of the killing of US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and other embassy officials on Sept. 11th.
From VIS: "Given below is the text of a declaration made by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., concerning the recent attack against the United States consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi:
The very serious attack organised against the United States diplomatic mission in Libya, which led to the death of the ambassador and of other functionaries, calls for the firmest possible condemnation on the part of the Holy See. Nothing, in fact, can justify the activity of terrorist organisations and homicidal violence. Along with our sadness, mourning and prayers for the victims, we again express the hope that, despite this latest tragedy, the international community may discover the most favourable ways to continue its commitment in favour of peace in Libya and the entire Middle East."
Fr. Lombardi's statement today follows an earlier one that was criticised for not explicitly condemning the atrocity. That statement was issued relatively early yesterday, before the full extent of the attack had become known. The violence which began in Cairo with the burning of American flags is reported to have been provoked by an anti-Islam film made by an American director that was posted on the web.
In comments to the Register this afternoon, Fr. Lombardi clarified that the first statement was "born as a result of the protest movement against the offensive film. However, it included a condemnation of the violence that was developing. But the information on the assault in Benghazi and the death of the Ambassador, and the organization of the assault (which was different to the reaction of offense to symbols), developed during the day and therefore required taking a new specific position."
Yesterday's press release:
"Profound respect for the beliefs, texts, outstanding figures and symbols of the various religions is an essential precondition for the peaceful coexistence of peoples. The serious consequences of unjustified offence and provocations against the sensibilities of Muslim believers are once again evident in these days, as we see the reactions they arouse, sometimes with tragic results, which in their turn nourish tension and hatred, unleashing unacceptable violence.
The message of dialogue and respect for all believers of different religions, which the Holy Father is preparing to carry with him on his forthcoming trip to Lebanon, indicate the path that everyone should follow in order to construct shared and peaceful coexistence of religions and peoples."