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Religious leaders in anti-war plea to Howard

A group of prominent Christians, including three bishops, have signed an open letter to Prime Minister John Howard against attacking Iraq.

The letter, to be published in this weekend's Catholic Leader newspaper in Queensland, urges world leaders to "step back from the brink of war in Iraq".

"War and international sanctions have taken a heavy toll on the innocent people of Iraq - to unleash the devastation of war on them now would be immoral," the letter said. "Please do not commit Australian troops to the Gulf.

"Instead, work for peaceful resolution of this conflict. We pray for the people of Iraq, Australia's military personnel and for you."

Among the 20 signatories are former Queensland governor Leneen Forde, Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn Pat Power, Australian Catholic Social Justice Council chairman Bishop William Morris and prominent Jesuit social advocate Fr Frank Brennan.

Meanwhile Canberra Auxiliary Bishop Pat Power has told Vatican Radio that while the media may have exaggerated his recent face to face confrontation with Prime Minister John Howard, there remains a deep divide on Iraq between the Australian Government and the country's bishops.

And in Melbourne, Marc Purcell, executive officer of the Catholic Commission for Justice Development and Peace, said, "A 'Coalition of the Willing', acting unilaterally in a euphemistic 'pre-emptive strike' lacks proper authorisation under Christian 'Just War' criteria."

"It is also illegal under the UN Charter which would rightly consider this as an illegal invasion of a sovereign country," he said. "If the US, the UK or Australia faced an imminent threat of invasion or attack by Iraq, they would be justified in fighting in self-defence."

Courier-Mail/Vatican Radio 105 Live/Catholic Commission for Justice Development and Peace

Letter as published in The Catholic Leader (image only)
20 sign open letter to PM (Catholic Leader)
Head-On Collision (audio of Bishop Pat Power's interview with Vatican Radio - requires Real Player)
Valentine's Day 'Make Love Not War' Peace Rally (Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace, Melbourne)
Iraq: Many Orders and Congregations to Participate in March for Peace Next Saturday (Vidimus Dominum)
Iraq: Word of Peace to Nation from Theresa of Lisieux (Vidimus Dominum)
Speakers: Church teaching on war, nukes important in terrorist age (Catholic News Service)
Policy analyst asks what legacy 'American empire' will leave (Catholic News Service)
When it comes to the issue of war, the final answer is in spiritual discernment (Spirit Daily)
Carroll doubts Just War as Pope sends envoy to Iraq (11/2/03)
Bishop concerned about PM's stress level (6/2/03)
Canberra bishop confronts PM on Iraq war (5/2/03)
Military archdiocese offers 'care packages' for Catholic troops | Care Package Request (

14 Feb 2003