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US bishops oppose 'pre-emptive, unilateral' force against Iraq

Any "pre-emptive, unilateral use of military force to overthrow the government of Iraq" cannot be justified at this time, the US bishops have told President George W Bush.

The bishops urged Bush "to step back from the brink of war and help lead the world to act together to fashion an effective global response to Iraq's threats."

In a letter to the President, the bishops used Catholic just-war criteria to argue that unilateral strikes against Iraq would differ from the use of force against Afghanistan, part of a broader war against terrorism in response to Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

"Given the precedents and risks involved, we find it difficult to justify extending the war on terrorism to Iraq, absent clear and adequate evidence of Iraqi involvement in the attacks of Sept. 11 or of an imminent attack of a grave nature," the bishops said.

The letter, dated 13 September and released in Washington on Tuesday, was signed by Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, president of the US bishops' conference, on behalf of the bishops' Administrative Committee.

Meanwhile the Pope also commented on what he regarded as a breakthrough.

"The good news arrived of the possibility of a resumption of collaboration of Iraq with the International Community," he said, calling upon the pilgrims gathered at yesterday's General Audience in St Peter's Square to continue to pray for the situation.

LINKSUS Conference of Catholic Bishops | Bishops Raise Serious Moral Questions about Force While Welcoming President's Appeal to UN | Letter to President Bush on Iraq
Catholic bishops question legitimacy of possible unilateral attack on Iraq (AP)


19 Sep 2002