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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