Military archbishop says troops can carry out duties in good conscience
The head of the US Archdiocese for the Military Services said in a letter to his priests on Tuesday that members of the armed forces should carry out their duties in good conscience because they can presume the integrity of the leaders who decided to go to war in Iraq.
"Given the complexity of factors involved, many of which understandably remain confidential, it is altogether appropriate for members of our armed forces to presume the integrity of our leadership and its judgments, and therefore to carry out their military duties in good conscience," Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien said in the letter.
Bishop John Michael Botean of the Romanian Diocese of St. George in Canton, Ohio, in a Lenten message earlier this month that "any direct participation and support of this war against the people of Iraq is objectively grave evil, a matter of mortal sin."
Although Archbishop O'Brien's letter did not directly refer to Bishop Botean's message, he told Catholic News Service that it was meant, in part, as a response to questions he has received about Bishop Botean's letter.
"It is to be hoped that all factors which have led to our intervention will eventually be made public and that the full picture of the Iraqi regime's weaponry and brutality will shed helpful light upon our president's decision," he wrote.
His letter went on to praise the commitment and values of those in the military and their families and to thank Catholic chaplains, priests at home and those on deployment for their work. He also asked for special attention from priests serving at Veterans Affairs medical centers to those who still bear physical or psychological pain from their experiences of war.
Catholic News Service
Military Ordinariate (USA) | Text of 25 March letter
Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien (catholic-hierarchy.org)
Cardinal McCarrick on the War in Iraq: Says Bishops Don't Classify Soldiers' Role as Immoral (Zenit)
Letter of Bishop John Michael Botean (7/3/03)
27 Mar 2003