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Australian bishops support Pope call to observe international law

In an Ash Wednesday peace message, Australia's Catholic Bishops have amplified the Pope's call for political leaders to observe international law in their efforts to disarm Iraq.

The Australian bishops have joined with Christians around the world in celebrating Ash Wednesday and beginning the Lenten season of intensified prayer and fasting, in line with the recent call of the Holy Father.

They said in a statement released late yesterday: "Because 'war is always a defeat for humanity', we support the Holy Father's call for leaders to say No to War and to search exhaustively for peaceful solutions through the United Nations."

They pointed out that the Pope has made it clear that the answer to avoiding war "lies in observing international law, engaging in honest dialogue and diplomacy and rejecting the culture of death".

The Bishops stressed that the conditions for a "Just War" provided for by Catholic Social Teaching "have not been met".

"In particular, we question the moral legitimacy of a pre-emptive strike. Indeed, any action against Iraq without broad international support and the mandate of the United Nations Security Council would be questionable."

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

A Statement on Iraq from the Catholic Bishops of Australia | Full Statement
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Adelaide to support Pope's call for peace fast on Ash Wednesday (Catholic Communications, Adelaide)
Prayers for Peace in Iraq (World Council of Churches)
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5 Mar 2003