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February 21, 2002

CARDINAL BEVILACQUA EXTENDS SUPPORT TO JEWISH CONGREGATION

Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia, offered his heartfelt support to the Congregation Kol Ami in its efforts to build a synagogue in Abington Township, Montgomery County. The location of the proposed synagogue is a former convent of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

In a letter to the President of Congregation Kol Ami, Mr. Mark Levin, dated February 19, 2002, Cardinal Bevilacqua said, "I have read with great interest about the recent news conference which was held to offer support to your efforts. Standing with your Congregation's members were representatives of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General. I understand that each of the representatives supports your Congregation's federally protected right to build a synagogue. I know, too, that the Sisters of the Holy Family have been ably working to assist you in achieving your goal. I wish to take this opportunity to add my heartfelt support to your efforts."

Residents and the township commissioners have raised objections to the location of the proposed synagogue citing issues of noise and traffic. The Congregation has cited federal legislation known as "The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act" to support its efforts. A federal court has affirmed the Congregation's right to proceed with the proposed synagogue, citing "The Act." In his letter to Mr. Levin, Cardinal Bevilacqua said, "As you may know, this legislation was enacted in response to the difficulties encountered by St. Peter the Apostle Church in the Diocese of San Antonio, Texas. All too often, congregations of various faiths encounter difficulties when attempting to build or expand houses of worship or their related schools."

Abington Township can file an appeal in federal court. A separate action is pending in Montgomery County Court where a residents' group is appealing a special zoning exception granted to Congregation Kol Ami to occupy the grounds of the former convent.

TEXT OF CARDINAL BEVILACQUA'S LETTER TO MR. MARK LEVIN, PRESIDENT OF CONGREGATION KOL AMI


February 19, 2002

Mr. Mark Levin
President, Congregation Kol Ami
312 Harrison Avenue
Glenside, PA 19038

Dear Mr. Levin:

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been following your Congregation's attempt to build a synagogue in Abington Township. I am mindful that the location of the proposed synagogue is a former convent of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

I have read with great interest about the recent press conference which was held to offer support to your efforts. Standing with your Congregation's members were representatives of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General. I understand that each of the representatives supports your Congregation's federally protected right to build a synagogue. I know, too, that the Sisters of the Holy Family have been ably working to assist you in achieving your goal. I wish to take this opportunity to add my heartfelt support to your efforts.

The Congregation has cited federal legislation known as "The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act" in support of your efforts. As you may know, this legislation was enacted in response to the difficulties encountered by St. Peter the Apostle Church in the Diocese of San Antonio, Texas. All too often, congregations of various faiths encounter difficulties when attempting to build or expand houses of worships or their related schools.

Offering you prayers and support as you continue in your efforts to build a house of worship for your followers, I am,

Sincerely yours,


Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua
Archbishop of Philadelphia

Contact
Donna Farrell
Broadcast and Media Specialist
215-587-3747

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