This is the subject heading (incidentally misspelling Pat Keegans's name) of an e-mail sent by Frank Duggan. The text reads:
"Fr Keegan's remarks, as printed in [The Herald] newspaper, were deemed to be very inappropriate for this memorial service. It is a day to remember 270 innocent souls murdered in an act of state sponsored terrorism. It is not a day for politics, a discussion of the bomber's trial and conviction or of his health. Fr Keegan's views are his own and are quite contrary to those held by the victims families in the US. It is unfortunate that he has chosen this day to publicly express those views in the press.
Frank Duggan, President
Victims of Pan Am 103, Inc."
Now that Canon Keegans's address has been barred from the Arlington service, I am reproducing the full text of it here:
They were lovely children, Paul and Lyndsey and Joanne. Lyndsey (10) and her brother Paul (13) called at my house in Sherwood Crescent, Lockerbie, delivering Christmas cards for the Scouts and Guides. It was December 19th 1988. Just a few days to Christmas and they were telling me about presents under the tree, grandparents coming to visit, and as they left they said, “See you on Christmas Day, Father”. I never saw them again. At 7.04pm on December 21st 1988 they died. Their parents died. Their friend Joanne (10) and her parents also died. Pan Am 103 had exploded in Sherwood Crescent. Eleven people died in Sherwood Crescent. 259 people died on the plane. This was an odious act of terror and the murder of 270 innocent men, women and children.
I celebrated Requiem Mass for Joanne on January 10th 1989. Her parents were never found. Paul and Lyndsey were never found but the remains of their parents, Jack and Rosaleen, were found and as their coffins lay side by side in the church I thought of how they would have looked as they stood side by side on their wedding day.
We might imagine that a disaster happens and then people start a process of recovery; not a bit of it. Things get worse. It is like the mushroom cloud of a nuclear explosion and the fall-out never seems to end. As you, the families from America, the UK and many other countries arrived in Lockerbie our grief and our sorrow for you could not be expressed in words but were clearly visible in our eyes. One look at us and was enough to tell you how deeply we felt for you.
In the mayhem and horror of Lockerbie I asked myself who would commit such a heinous crime and for what reason. I and many others were acutely aware of a bombing that had taken place earlier that year on July 3rd 1988 when in the Persian Gulf an Iranian civilian aircraft flight IR655 was blown out of the sky by the American warship USS Vincennes. 290 civilians died; 16 of the dead were children. The fact that this happened and that Iran was the main focus of the criminal investigation did not affect the response made by the people of Lockerbie; American families together with all other nationalities received un-questioning, total compassion and care. The whole of Scotland should be proud of the people of Lockerbie. The compassion they showed has passed the test of time and will never be withdrawn.
21 years have passed and this year has been a very difficult and controversial one. The Cabinet Minister of Justice in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Kenny MacAskill, made a decision to release on compassionate grounds Abdelbasset al-Megrahi. I hold that it was the right decision to make and it took great courage. The doubts concerning the conviction, the evidence and the reliability of witnesses have been well documented and led to an appeal.
I know that this is not the view generally held within the United States of America; however it a belief held by me and many others in Scotland who have been closely and personally involved since that dark day of December 21st 1988. I do believe that he is an innocent man and that in time the truth of that will emerge. But he was not released because of doubt concerning his conviction. He was released on strict legal grounds and because of the important element of Christian compassion which has influenced the legal systems of Scotland and Europe.
In my letter of August 28th of this year 2009 which I sent to all the American Families of Pan Am Flight 103 I included the words of Archbishop Mario Conti of the Archdiocese of Glasgow
In The Herald newspaper he wrote:
“I personally and many others in the Catholic community admired the decision to release Abdelbaset al-Megrahi on grounds of compassion which is, after all, one of the principles inscribed on the mace of the Scottish Parliament by which Scotland’s Government should operate. The showing of mercy in any situation is not a sign of weakness. Indeed in this situation, with the pressures and circumstances of the case, it seemed to me a sign of manifest strength.
"Despite contrary voices I believe it is a decision which will be a source of satisfaction for many Scots and one which will be respected in the international community. I have been impressed by the expressions of understanding and insight from Dr Jim Swire and other relatives who lost loved ones on the Pan Am flight who have acknowledged the rightness of the gesture of compassion and their doubts as to the safety of the original conviction.
"I would welcome any move which would try to find clearer answers as to what happened and why”.
Archbishop Mario Conti, 24th August 2009, Glasgow, Scotland
In my letter of August 28th to all the families of Pan Am Flight 103, I expressed my own satisfaction at the decision reached by Mr Kenny MacKaskill. At the same time I stated very strongly that my satisfaction is not in-compatible with the affection, compassion and support that I have consistently offered to you for many years; I have had the honour of sharing in your lives and have in turn received from you great friendship, love and support. In my letter I concluded by saying that whatever lies ahead in the years to come that my love, support and affection would always be there for you.
I want to say very clearly that I believe, irrespective of guilt or innocence, the release of Abdelbasset al-Megrahi on the grounds of compassion was the right decision. My life and my thinking and response to people and situations have been formed by Christ and his His gospel; so, I must try to have the gospel at the heart of all my decisions great and small in this life. On the first anniversary I said that we should live our lives joyfully because that is how those who have died would want us to live.
In 21 years we have made great progress. However, if I keep bitterness, anger, hatred and a desire for revenge in my heart I would find it difficult to live my life joyfully. Getting rid of bitterness, anger, hatred and a desire for revenge in my heart is beyond me. I cannot do it by myself as a human being. Only God can give that gift. It is a divine gift and it takes an enormous effort even to reach out to accept that gift; but if we do so we find great peace. The words of Christ that lead to that gift are very challenging. He says to us: “You have learnt how it was said you must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: Love your enemies and pray for those who hate you.” (Matthew 5, 43) “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” (Matthew 6,13) “Blessed are the merciful, they shall have mercy shown them”. (Matthew 5, 7) Easy to read, but difficult to live. And from St Paul: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”. (Rom. 12: 21)
Today and the years ahead; I started by reflecting on the lovely children who died in Sherwood Crescent on the night of December 21st 1988. You will be thinking of your own child, husband, wife, father, mother, relative or friend who died at the same time as Paul and Lyndsey and Joanne. They deserve the best from us. They deserve justice. They deserve that we as human beings on this earth do all that we can to promote justice, peace and goodwill. On this 21st anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 I thank you for asking me to speak today; I offer you my prayers and my love. And I pray that all of us will be instruments of peace in this world and that we remember the words of St Paul: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good”. (Rom. 12: 21)