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Australian bishops respond with sorrow to Howard troop commitment

Hobart's Archbishop Adrian Doyle expressed "deep sorrow" following yesterday's news that the Australian Government has committed the country to war and that President George Bush has issued a 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq.

"I am at one with Pope John Paul II when he says that war is a defeat for humanity," Archbishop Doyle said. "While I recognise the dangers posed by the Iraqi leadership to its own people, the Middle East and the world community, I believe that the strict conditions of Christian teaching for use of military force against Iraq have not been met."

"Our prayers and support are with the men and women of the Australian Defence Force deployed to the region," he said. "We pray that God protects them and brings them home safely."

Meanwhile North Queensland Bishop Michael Putney said the faithful should pray for Saddam Hussein to buckle under pressure from the United States and leave Iraq.

The ultimatum issued to the Iraqi leader yesterday by US President George W. Bush meant all the community could do was pray Saddam complied and war was averted, Bishop Putney said.

The Catholic commission for Justice Development and Peace in Melbourne said that the Howard Government's decision to commit to war and to invade Iraq is morally unjust, illegal and a "day of shame" for Australia.

"The Government has decided to follow the path of violence and this is unconscionable," said executive officer Marc Purcell. "The decision to commit to war represents a moral failure on the part of politicians to act justly."

"The Government's justification that it is acting legally is weak and wrong. The UN Secretary General has said that that unilateral attack on Iraq, without a new endorsement under the UN charter would be illegal."

Archdiocese of Hobart/Townsville Bulletin/Catholic Commission for Justice Development and Peace

A statement on Iraq from the Catholic Bishops of Australia (5/3/03)
Carroll doubts Just War as Pope sends envoy to Iraq (11/2/03)
Commission says Howard looking at free trade reward for war (18/3/03)
Archdiocese of Hobart
Catholic Commission for Justice Development and Peace

19 Mar 2003