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US Bishops question Iraq war morality

Hours after the Iraqi parliament voted not to comply with the UN Security Council resolution on weapons inspection, the US Catholic bishops declared their intention to make a new statement reiterating doubts about the morality of going to war with Iraq.

Iraq has subsequently announced its intention to accept the terms of the new UN Security Council resolution calling on the country to disarm, a move that apparently clears the way for the return of weapons inspectors.

The Bishops' statement, which had not yet been drafted, was expected to be voted on yesterday (US time), when the agenda was to be largely focused on the bishops' response to the scandal of child sexual abuse by priests.

Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston said that the draft statement would follow the outline of a letter that conference president Bishop Wilton Gregory sent to President Bush in September. It explained Catholic "just war" principles for determining whether military action is morally justified, and expressed doubt that the Iraqi situation fit those criteria.

"[W]e find it difficult to justify extending the war on terrorism to Iraq, absent clear and adequate evidence of Iraqi involvement in the attacks of September 11th or of an imminent attack of a grave nature," Gregory wrote on Sept. 13. "We respectfully urge you 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 that conforms with traditional moral limits on the use of military force."

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Iraq 'accepts UN resolution' (BBC)
Bishops to draft new statement about possible Iraq war (Catholic News Service)
Bishops to oppose Iraq war (AP)

14 Nov 2002