Bishop, Nobel Prize winner join in appeal for action in Darfur crisis

Catholic News Service
29 Oct. 2004

UNITED NATIONS (CNS) -- A Catholic bishop, a Nobel Peace Prize winner
and other religious and human rights leaders joined together at the
United Nations Oct. 27 in a call for the international community to
do more to end the crisis in western Sudan's Darfur region.

The delegation -- which also included Muslim, Jewish and Christian
leaders and members of the Save Darfur Coalition -- asked U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan to make a firm personal commitment to
bring leadership to the United Nations to finally end the violence
and suffering in Darfur.

Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., representing the
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, joined Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel
and others in calling for a clear U.N. mandate for the African Union
to protect innocent civilians and for other financial and logistical
support from the international community.

Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, a Vatican representative to U.N. and
humanitarian organizations based in Geneva, recently said 6,000 to
10,000 refugees are dying each month in Darfur because of violence,
lack of food and shortage of medicines. More than 2 million people
have been driven from their homes, with many living in refugee camps
in Chad and Sudan.

Bishop Murphy was undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice
and Peace at the Vatican from 1980 to 1987. He filled in at the meeting
for Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., chairman
of the USCCB Committee on International Policy, who could not attend.

In a written message released by Bishop Murphy, Bishop Ricard called
on "Catholics and all people of good will to do everything they can
to help bring an end to the reign of terror confronting our brothers
and sisters in Sudan."

Specifically, he asked for increased pressure on the Sudanese
government to achieve several goals: "saving innocent lives; allowing
people to return home eventually in peace and security; protecting
those languishing in camps for the internally displaced and those
involved in the delivery of humanitarian relief; respecting cease-fire
agreements and seeking a negotiated settlement between the government
and the rebel groups; and holding responsible those who perpetrated
atrocities and crimes against humanity."

Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor who won the peace prize in 1986, said at
a press conference after the meeting that the group wanted to tell
Annan "of our pain, of our anguish, of our outrage at the situation
in Darfur," according to an Agence France-Presse report.

"Some of us belong to the generation that has seen the indifference
of the world," he said. "For me the indifference of the past in a
source of anguish and despair. Therefore, if we speak today, it's
because we say: No more indifference."

Among those participating in the meeting were Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid
of the Justice Committee for Majlis Ash-Shura of New York; Archbishop
Kharjag Barsamian of the Armenian Church of America; Sara Bloomfield
of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum; and Tony Kireopoulos of the
National Council of Churches.

Other participants were Ruth Messinger of American Jewish World
Service; Hannah Rosenthal of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs;
Franciscan Father Michael Perry, policy adviser to the U.S. bishops
on African affairs; the Rev. James Forbes of Riverside Church in New
York; and David Rubenstein, coordinator of the Save Darfur Coalition,
which is made up of more than 100 national faith-based and humanitarian