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Jim Wallis: The Catholic Bishops Respond on Iraq

posted by God's Politics

A few weeks ago, I wrote that a group of Catholic members of Congress sent a letter to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, asking to meet with the bishops to discuss mobilizing the church to end the war in Iraq.


The bishops have responded. Thomas G. Wenski, the bishop of Orlando and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Policy, wrote in a letter to the members of Congress:

The Catholic Bishops of the United States share your deep concern for the dangerous and deteriorating situation in Iraq. Too many Iraqi and American lives have been lost. Too many Iraqi communities have been shattered. Too many civilians have been driven from their homes. The human and financial costs of the war are staggering. Representatives of our Conference welcome the opportunity to meet with you and other policy makers to discuss ways to pursue the goal of a “responsible transition” to bring an end to the war in Iraq.


The current situation in Iraq is unacceptable and unsustainable, as is the policy and political stalemate among decision makers in Washington. Our Conference hopes to work with the Congress and the Administration to forge bipartisan policies on ways to bring about a responsible transition and an end to the war.

After summarizing the Bishops’ previous statements on the war, Bishop Wenski continued:

Our Conference is under no illusions regarding Iraq. None of the alternative courses of action are without consequences for human life and dignity. There is no path ahead that leads to an unambiguously good outcome for Iraq, our nation and the world. It was for this very reason that we raised serious moral questions regarding military intervention in Iraq in the first place. Nevertheless, our nation must have the moral courage to change course in Iraq and to break the policy and political stalemate in Washington so that we can walk a difficult path that does the most good and the least damage in human and moral terms.

This war may finally be coming to an end. And the role of the church could and should be decisive in making it so.



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Marcello

posted July 24, 2007 at 11:03 am


After so much bad publicity, including some astonishingly inaccurate claims coming from one Beliefnet blogger, it’s nice to see an unambiguously positive statement regarding the Catholic Church.
There’s plenty of sound reasons to criticize the Church. But this statement from the Bishops helps to confirm what I’ve always believed: on balance, the Catholic Church is a positive moral force in the world.



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kevin s.

posted July 24, 2007 at 11:13 am


They didn’t really say very much. They are concerned about the situation in Iraq and want to end the stalemate. Well, yeah. Who is for stalemates?



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Moderatelad

posted July 24, 2007 at 11:52 am


Posted by: kevin s. | July 24, 2007 11:13 AM
Well said – just like almost everything else that is stated on this site. They get the jaw-jacking done with nothing tangable formulated. DGIH – I wonder what Rosevelt and Churchill would have done with everyone wanting their say during WWII.
Hey Hillary – you want the DOD to give you a plan so that we know how to get out of Iraq? Why don’t you come up with the proposal and let the world see what you would do if you were in charge. Then the rest of us can be Monday Morning Quarterbacks on how your policies worked – or didn’t work.
Blessing on the Bishops –
.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 24, 2007 at 12:45 pm


I wonder what Rosevelt and Churchill would have done with everyone wanting their say during WWII.
You forget one thing: We went into Iraq on false pretenses. On the other hand, those boys knew what they were dealing with from the get-go and virtually everyone was on board.



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kevin s.

posted July 24, 2007 at 1:16 pm


“You forget one thing: We went into Iraq on false pretenses. ”
He doesn’t forget it. He disagrees with the assertion, as do I. The Bush lied us into war is only a settled question for those who would never hear any argument to the contrary.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 24, 2007 at 2:13 pm


He doesn’t forget it. He disagrees with the assertion, as do I. The Bush lied us into war is only a settled question for those who would never hear any argument to the contrary.
Only his most ardent backers today believe that. That’s why his approval rating is so low today.



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Moderatelad

posted July 24, 2007 at 2:23 pm


Posted by: kevin s. | July 24, 2007 1:16 PM
We went into Iraq on false pretenses
We went into Iraq and were in agreement for the most part. We did not find what we were told was there. (even Saddam threatened US with it) Some have back-beddled for policical reasons.
Blessings –
.



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neuro_nurse

posted July 24, 2007 at 2:34 pm


I don’t see anything in Bishop Wenski’s letter that hadn’t already been said in Bishop Skylstad’s January 12, 2007 statement.
http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/iraq.shtml
Seek peace and pursue it.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 24, 2007 at 2:59 pm


We did not find what we were told was there. (even Saddam threatened US with it) Some have back-beddled for policical reasons.
Well, considering that Saddam’s people were lying to him about such weapons…



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Kevin Wayne

posted July 24, 2007 at 3:17 pm


As long as thee were credible voices (and there were) being raised to support the notion of “not” going into Iraq, the fact remains that the Bush regime chose only to listen to thos ewho supported what he wanted all along.
Or to paraphrase it the Kevin S way: “They would not hear an argument to the contrary.”



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kevin s.

posted July 24, 2007 at 3:27 pm


“Only his most ardent backers today believe that. That’s why his approval rating is so low today.”
It doesn’t really matter who believes it, although many of those who do not register approval of Bush are conservatives and moderates, who do not believe that Bush was lying. Iraq is unpopular, but so was immigration reform and lacking to fortitude to reform Social Security.



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splinterlog

posted July 24, 2007 at 4:20 pm


Well Hail Mary and pass the ammunition :)



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Wolverine

posted July 24, 2007 at 6:45 pm


Rick,
It isn’t just the President’s most ardent backers, it’s anyone who understands that intelligence is rarely cut-and-dried. Or anyone who has made an honest mistake and lived to regret it. But I guess you’ve never been mistaken about anything. Lucky you.
Wolverine



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Hans Blix

posted July 24, 2007 at 6:57 pm


I told you so!



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Cynthia

posted July 24, 2007 at 6:57 pm


I was a child during the Vietnam War. It seems to me we have crossed this road before. We put a Democrate who professed Peace during the Election period and then lost his nerve and entrenched us even deeper.
I do not trust that any new President, Republican or Democrat can promice that they will not call up the draft after their instalment. No matter who gets in, we will have to drag them kicking and screaming to the work of deplomacy and resolution.
The beloved community needs to mobilize and beat them to the punch line. Church leaders need to organnize now and start bringing Government leaders to the table. Don’t wait for any American President to get around to it.
If you want government done right , do it your self. Don’t hire someone else to do it.



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Anonymous

posted July 24, 2007 at 10:05 pm


We went into Iraq and were in agreement for the most part. We did not find what we were told was there. (even Saddam threatened US with it) Some have back-beddled for policical reasons.
Blessings –
Amen M ,
How could anyone listen to Colin Powell address the UN and assume Bush is a liar ? Was Egypt in on it ? Israel , Saddams own Military, England , etc .
To those who suffer from Bush Derangement Disorder , and own lack of understanding of the issues believe Bush lying is his reasons for his numbers going down . Must believe this new democrat Congress must be led by a new brand of liars . Oh no thats not it either , is it ?
If after the famous Mission Accomplished was actually mission accomplished , the “liar”Bush would most likely be one of the more popular Presidents of this century . The one thing about liberals , its not they don’t care about the issues , its just they don’t know what they are .



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Mick Sheldon

posted July 24, 2007 at 10:12 pm


Sorry the above rant was mine .
P.S Invading Iraq was always a bad idea without a military plan to get out of there . Regardless if we went in and one week later everything went our way . We would have been lucky , but still without a thorough militarily plan .



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Mick Sheldon

posted July 24, 2007 at 10:58 pm


M said
“I wonder what Rosevelt and Churchill would have done with everyone wanting their say during WWII.”
M ever see the “Best Years of our Lives” . A part must relevant is the scene in the drug store where the guy is telling a man with no hands he respects him but he was a fool for going to war . Listened to a bunch of lies . Dana Andrews takes a punch at him . Actually there were nay sayers back then , Charles Lindberg was a famous one .
I wish we had more Colin Powells in there debating these issues , not more Michael Moores . I think that is a major difference in who has taken over the media barrage of what should be done now .
anyway
Great movie by the way , my wife who has no problem telling me about my clunkers liked this Americanna classic . Chick flicks always win , but sometimes I get bold .
The ensemble cast includes Fredric March, Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Virginia Mayo, and Hoagy Carmichael. It also features Harold Russell, an actor who had lost both his hands in a training accident.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 25, 2007 at 12:14 am


It isn’t just the President’s most ardent backers, it’s anyone who understands that intelligence is rarely cut-and-dried. Or anyone who has made an honest mistake and lived to regret it. But I guess you’ve never been mistaken about anything. Lucky you.
The problem was not so much faulty intelligence but Bush’s unwillingness to listen to anyone who didn’t tell him what he wanted to hear. Remember when Ahmed Chalabi told Dick Cheney that “we would be greeted as liberators”? And then there was the false Weekly Standard article that tried to tie al-Qaeda to Saddam; some people have said that the magazine “tricked” Bush into going in.



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kevin s.

posted July 25, 2007 at 1:46 am


“some people have said that the magazine “tricked” Bush into going in.”
Ah, the “some people” argument.



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bobtr900

posted July 25, 2007 at 1:50 am


Unfortunately the Bishops, the Popes both current and previous, the Vatican and all the right wing Catholics are enablers of the Republican Party, the party of war-death-kill for ever more and more and more PROFITS.
The cardinal sin of PRIDE(making oneself equal to God)is rampant in the Church, my church but not me. The cure for the sin of PRIDE is to cultivate the virtue of HUMILITY. The Church and their allies the evangelical fundies and the Republicans and the Bushies and the Bush crime family are totally bereft of the virtue of Humility.
So as always, including before, during and after WWII wherein the Catholic Church endorsed and supported Hitler and the Nazi Party then and todays Nazi Party, the Rethugs, the Bishops letter is far too little and far too late.
As a Catholic the Church will never get my support for it’s corrupt hookup to the Republican Party.
And I’m not even a Democrat, I am an independant since 1967.



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Donny

posted July 25, 2007 at 7:48 am


And where are all of the Christians marching in Islamic countries to stop their violent genocidal techniques being employed against the non-Muslim populations in every country where Islam and Islamists exist?
Christians should not be cowards about peace.
If peace is to be had in Islamic countries, then the Gospel will need to be preached to Muslims and the people embrace the correct Christ Jesus.
Any Sojouners OR Catholics out there willing to go for Christ and the Gospel?
I hear crickets in broad daylight.
And I hear a lot of voices raised in comfy Christian places.



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Anonymous

posted July 25, 2007 at 8:13 am


Posted by: bobtr900 | July 25, 2007 1:50 AM
The Church and their allies the evangelical fundies and the Republicans and the Bushies and the Bush crime family are totally bereft of the virtue of Humility.
To quote my favorate character in the movie ‘Independance Day’ – ‘Up-Yours!’
‘…totally bereft of the virtue of Humility.’ Isn’t that a little too general a statement? Most of us know that all that we have or will become is because of God’s blessings toward us. Just because we differ on principle with some issues – you think you have the right to claim that we are ‘…bereft of the virtue…’ – give me a break.
Later –
.



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kevin s.

posted July 25, 2007 at 10:36 am


“And I’m not even a Democrat, I am an independant since 1967.”
I guess so… When your finished coming down, would you like to have a conversation, or was this a drive-by?



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 25, 2007 at 10:37 am


Ah, the “some people” argument.
I didn’t say it; someone else did.
Any Sojourners OR Catholics out there willing to go for Christ and the Gospel?
Some Sojourners sympthizers, specifically the “peace teams” that have been to the Middle East and mentioned on this blog months ago, have already done just that. But if you reasonably think that you can simply go into such places and “preach Jesus,” you’re nuts. You have to build a rapport with the folks over there, same as you would do in any alien culture; your own lives in fact represent the first message.
Now, if you intend to convert Muslims simply to keep them from invading this country, which isn’t likely to happen anyway, I don’t think God will honor that. For openers, the Gospel exists not to keep you in your safe, smug American cubbyhole from which you can throw darts that don’t hit anything. Besides, are you, Donny, prepared to sacrifice your own life for the sake of the Good News of Jesus Christ? Not from what I can tell — so don’t you dare tell people to do what I don’t see you doing yourself.



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Joy Aspenall

posted July 25, 2007 at 12:56 pm


As a life-long practicing Roman Catholic,I find it a source of deep pain that the leaders of my church have not had the moral courage to reclaim our true origins as a peace church. The popes and bishops have “walked to the door” many times, and always failed to “cross the threshold.”
Beautiful documents like Pacem in Terris by Pope John 23 sit gathering dust in parish libraries instead of being used in the pulpit each Sunday. No one reads the Bishops documents on nuclear proliferation and the 1983 Pastoral letter The Challange of Peace… appearantly not even the Bishops themselves. But some of us have, some of us do, and we look to people like Fr. John Dear, Fr. Richard Rohr, Sr. Joan Chittister and organizations like Pax Christi for leadership.
Joy Aspenall, San Jose, CA



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neuro_nurse

posted July 25, 2007 at 2:01 pm


“I guess so… When your finished coming down, would you like to have a conversation, or was this a drive-by? ”
No, it was nothing more than an anti-Catholic rant.
bobtr900,
Do you want me to give any credence to what you wrote? Cite your sources. Please don’t hand me “everybody knows that…”
You need to do your homework. I’m not going to do it for you.
Peace.



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Payshun

posted July 25, 2007 at 4:08 pm


So Donny I guess you want to go back to the times of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of spain. They used forced conversions on the Moors of their day. Is that what you want?
p



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Mick Sheldon

posted July 25, 2007 at 4:38 pm


“They used forced conversions on the Moors of their day.”
ahhhh those were the days . Actually Iraq has a small Christian population that is allowed to live in peace . This from what I am told from young man who just returned from Iraq . He said they are not really part of the culture , sort of co existing and allowed to particpate,… quietly .



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Cynthia

posted July 25, 2007 at 6:13 pm


A significant number of the young soldiers that are returning from Iraq permanently mamed or sleeping under “Old Glory” are Latin Americans. This is becoming a growing tragety both spiritually and econonmically for a growing number of Latin American Families.
It should not be a surprise that many Catholic and Evangelical congreations are finally seeing the writing on the church doors as the young and talented from their communities are slain.
The question is: Do you trust any new American President, no matter what party they come from to have the courage to turn this war around and not start a draft after the election?
What our military is trying to do now is not sustainable with out a draft. Will the next leader of the free world have the support they need to make the right decision?
Will the Vets of Vietnam have died in vain or will we embrace that expensive and valuable lesson and get it right this time?
The clock is ticking.
PS
How many people who took the time to plan getting out of a war found the time to get around to the war?



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neuro_nurse

posted July 25, 2007 at 6:21 pm


bobtr900,
On second thought, I’ve done your homework for you. It wasn’t difficult.
The only criticism that I am aware of regarding the conduct of Pope Pius XII during WWII that may have some validity is that the pope knew of the holocaust and other Nazi atrocities and did little to intervene.
(http://www.) religioustolerance.org/vat_hol12.htm
If we are to condemn Pius XII on that basis, then we’ll have to condemn FDR as well.
(http://www.) pbs.org/wgbh/amex/holocaust/filmmore/reference/primary/index.html
FDR also allowed the Ford Motor Company (which had permission to make Nazi tanks), DuPont, Standard Oil, et alia to trade with Nazi Germany.
(http://www.) omnicenter.org/warpeacecollection/dictators.htm#hitler
I may be wrong, but I suspect that the “Hitler’s Pope”-type books have, for the most part, been written either by anti-Catholic Protestants or former Catholics, all of whom have an axe to grind with the Church.
Are you aware of any books about Pius XII written by Jews?
“In appreciation of what Pius did for the Jews; the World Jewish Congress made a large cash gift to the Vatican in 1945; in the same year, Rabbi Herzog of Jerusalem sent a ‘special blessing’ to the Pope ‘for his lifesaving efforts on behalf of the Jews during the Nazi occupation of Italy'; and when Pius died in 1958, Israel’s Foreign Minister Golda Meir gave a him moving eulogy at the United Nations for the same reason.”
“Pope Pius XII and the Nazis,” at: (http://) members.nbci.com/ottaw0/popepiusstart.html
See also:
How Pius XII Protected Jews
By Jimmy Akin
(http://www.) catholic.com/library/HOW_Pius_XII_PROTECTED_JEWS.asp#F19
Regarding your alleged association between the Catholic Church and the Republican Party, see “Who Owns The ‘Catholic Vote’?” by Maurice Timothy Reidy,
(http://www.) sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=Soj0606&article=060610
(Multiple URLs are blocked by BeliefNet)
Seek peace and pursue it.



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Anonymous

posted July 25, 2007 at 6:29 pm


“the Bishops letter is far too little and far too late.” bobtr900
See:
http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/iraq.shtml



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Bill Samuel

posted July 26, 2007 at 7:01 pm


The U.S. bishops have not spoken on war with the strength of the Vatican. The Vatican has been clearly and unequivocally against the Iraq War, under two popes, from the beginning.
Even more encouraging is that the current pope, before assuming that position, publicly questioned whether there ever could be a just war, and since taking office has sometimes sounded like a Christian pacifist (see On the Revolution of Love). And the Secretary of State he appointed in his first speech to diplomats hailed conscientious objections. So it looks to me like the Catholic Church, at its center, is coming back to being a peace church.
But that view is not expressed by the U.S. bishops.



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neuro_nurse

posted July 26, 2007 at 9:24 pm


Bill Samuel,
Thanks,
I wrote somewhere that I have on occasion been somewhat perplexed by this pope’s actions, but all of the things of his that I have read have been remarkable.
He speaks very sincerely about love.
Peace!



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Barry Riehle

posted August 6, 2007 at 7:34 pm


I would like to get back to the bishops’s concern about what to do now that we are there. I offered the following in The Cincinnati Enquirer.
While the President has refused to define what success in Iraq is I believe it is safe to say that it includes a single country based on democratic principles. I don’t think that is realistic.
Iraq is like the former Yugoslavia. It was created after World War I out of disparate peoples who had not gotten along for centuries. Once the strong man was out of the picture the old enmities reappeared. How do we expect to make Iraq with Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds play nice with each other in a few short years? This is not feasible.
I propose that the US engineer the same kind of arrangement that NATO did in the former Yugoslavia: allow Iraq to fracture according to natural lines, so that each of the three entities will be autonomous.
The critics will say: That would leave Iran as the biggest player in the region. Does anyone actually think that when the US leaves Iraq that Iran won’t be the most dominant country? We need to face reality.
Turkey will be upset if the Kurds in Iraq try to unite with the Kurds in Turkey. That is already happening. Turkey has a sizable army at its border and there are already incursions by both the Turks and Kurds.
What if they don’t have democracies? Then they will be like most of their neighbors.
What about Al-Qaida? Al-Qaida is getting stronger every day with us in Iraq because they are angry we are occupying an Islamic country. If we get out we will actually save lives and lots of money that we can put to a good use at home.
Will this make the three sides completely happy? Of course not. But it can stop the killing, just like in the former Yugoslavia. It will allow them to forge an uneasy peace that they can live with.



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