Threat to burn Quran has damaged U.S. image: ambassador

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A U.S. pastor’s threat to burn copies of the Quran has damaged the image of the United States, said the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

“The deliberate destruction of any holy book is an abhorrent act,” said the ambassador, Miguel H. Diaz.

Plans by a small Florida Pentecostal church to burn the Quran Sept. 11 represent “disrespectful acts” and in no way reflect “the sentiments of the American people or the U.S. government,” he said in a written statement Sept. 10. The ambassador’s remarks came after the Florida pastor, the Rev. Terry Jones, announced he had called off the event, even though later he said he was going to “rethink” that decision.

“The U.S. government condemns the on-again, off-again plans” by the small evangelical group, Diaz said. “The mere threat by a pastor of a small Florida church has already damaged the image of the U.S.”

Diaz’s comments were the latest in a series of condemnations by international church leaders and officials. Catholic bishops in Iraq and Pakistan joined a growing chorus of international religious leaders denouncing the planned burning. Chaldean Catholic Bishop Shlemon Warduni, the auxiliary of Baghdad, told Catholic News Service the proposed act “is totally against the spirit of Christianity.”

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