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Australian Bishops pray for quick end to Iraq conflict

Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference President Archbishop Francis Carroll has urged a renewed commitment to prayers for peace as diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iraq crisis give way to imminent military action.

Archbishop Carroll regretted the Federal Government's decision to commit Australia's defence forces to a war with Iraq, and said it would continue to be the subject of debate among people of good will.

On behalf of the Catholic Church in Australia, he assured the nation's defence personnel in Iraq and their families of prayers and wholehearted support.

But Archbishop Carroll stood by earlier statements issued by the Catholic Bishops of Australia that raised moral questions about Australia's role in a war with Iraq.

"With our defence forces now committed to war in Iraq, I repeat that call and point to Pope John Paul II's appeal in recent days for people 'to increase the commitment to prayer and penance and to ask Christ for the gift of His peace. Without conversion of the heart there is no peace'."

Meanwhile in the Kimberley on Western Australia, Broome Bishop Christopher Saunders has called for this coming Sunday, the Third Sunday of Lent, to be a special time of prayer for peace in the Gulf region.

In a pastoral letter to the faithful of the Diocese, he called the Australian Government's decision to side with the US coalition outside of the support of the United Nations as a "blitz on our national integrity".

"It is a denial of our national self-image as a peace-loving people who seek to solve problems through means other than conflict," he said.

But he made special mention of Australian Defence personnel "and their families who worry for them at home", stressing that "our prayers for peace necessarily include them, that they will be kept safe from the effects of this pending devastation"

Yesterday at 5:30 pm, Sydney's St Mary's Cathedral community celebrated a Mass for those dealing with the news of the outbreak of these Iraq hostilities.

Cathedral Dean Monsignor Tony Doherty, said: "The community of St Mary's want to stand with those engaged in this conflict.. during these times of desperate uncertainty when news reports paint the picture of what is happening on the other side of the world, we as a group in Sydney will gather and pray for the unintended victims of this conflict."

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference/Diocese of Broome/Catholic Communications (Sydney)

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
Diocese of Broome
St Mary's Cathedral Sydney
Canberra bishop says God's grace "vital for this dark time" (20/3/03)

21 Mar 2003