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US bishops draft statement on war

The Catholic bishops in the United States began reviewing their position on the war on terrorism on Monday, acknowledging a moral right to a military defense but warning that force alone is not the answer.

The authors of a draft proclamation took pains to say that nothing justifies terrorism. Still, they argued that poverty, violence and human rights abuses, if not addressed, generate resentment that terrorists can exploit.

The draft proposal urges US leaders to redefine foreign policy to make alleviating global suffering a priority, and recommends lifting economic sanctions against Iraq and helping to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It also asks national leaders to develop criteria for when the airstrikes on Afghanistan should end.

"The actions of our nation and other nations must ensure a just war now and a just peace later," the statement reads.

The document was presented by Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, who oversaw the draft process, at the start of a four-day meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Later in the gathering, the group will vote on whether to approve the proclamation.

UC Catholic Conference