Bishops see US 'at a crossroads in Iraq'

In a 3600-word statement on behalf of the US Bishops, Bishop Thomas Wenski of Florida called for "serious and civil discussions" on what the United States must do to prepare for "a responsible transition" to full Iraqi self-rule.

"Our nation is at a crossroads in Iraq," said Bishop Wenski, who is chairman of the US bishops' Committee on International Policy.

"Our nation's military forces should remain in Iraq only as long as it takes for a responsible transition, leaving sooner rather than later," he said.

Catholic News Service reports that he sharply criticised the "shrill and shallow debate that distorts reality and reduces the options to 'cut and run' versus 'stay the course,'" Bishop Wenski instead urged "serious and civil discussions of alternatives that emphasize planning for a responsible transition in Iraq."

He called for "clearer signals that the goals of US policy are to help Iraqis assume full control of their governance and not to occupy the nation for an indeterminate period." The US government should declare that the presence of US troops in Iraq "must be an Iraqi decision that respects the needs and sovereignty of the Iraqi people," he said.

"Despite past missteps and current difficulties, our nation urgently needs to seek to broaden international support and participation in the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq," he added. He said this will require giving up some US control and "giving international partners and allies a real voice and real responsibilities."

Bishop Wenski recalled the strong opposition of church leaders to the US intervention in Iraq three years ago.

"It is well known that our bishops' conference repeatedly expressed grave moral concerns about the military intervention in Iraq and the unpredictable and uncontrollable negative consequences of an invasion and occupation," he wrote.

"Similar concerns were articulated powerfully by Pope John Paul II and the Holy See," he said. "The events of the past three years, the absence of evidence of weapons of mass destruction and the continuing violence and unrest in Iraq have reinforced those ethical concerns. ... Our conference remains highly skeptical of the concept of 'preventive war.'"

Bishop says US 'is at a crossroads in Iraq' (Catholic News Service 12/1/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Bishops Call for "Responsible Transition" in Iraq; Urge "Serious Civil Dialogue" (US Conference of Catholic Bishops 12/1/06)

US bishops call for 'responsible transition' in Iraq (Catholic News Agency 13/1/06)
American Bishops call for 'responsible transition' in Iraq (Independent Catholic News 13/1/06)
US Bishop Urges "Responsible Transition" in Iraq (Zenit 12/1/06)
US Bishop's Statement on Iraq (Zenit 12/1/06)
Iraqi Election Portends a Nightmare, Warns Bishop (Zenit 10/1/06)

16 Jan 2006