Catholic Bishops on Military Action against Iraq
posted on 15 November 2002
This statement was agreed during a plenary meeting of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales the week of 11 November.
1. War is a route from which there is no return. The need to avoid war is a cornerstone of Christian teaching. The UK and the USA are currently preparing to send their armed forces into war. If there is war, as well as military casualties on both sides thousands of Iraqi civilians will die. It is our moral responsibility to avoid this war unless, in the face of a grave and imminent threat, there is no other possible means to achieve the just end of disarming Iraq.
2. Military action can only be a last resort. We recognise United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441 as the legitimate expression of the international community's collective determination to disarm Iraq. At the same time we strongly urge the international community to pursue alternatives to war before it is too late.
3. Sanctions have not worked. They have imposed a decade of misery on ordinary people whilst allowing an exploitative regime to sustain itself in power. It is time to find a policy that offers Iraq a positive incentive to comply with the demands of the Security Council. In return for genuine disarmament, monitored and verified by the United Nations, the lifting of comprehensive sanctions, and the reintegration of Iraq into the international community, is the route which must now be explored.
4. Grief for those killed and wounded in war will be the more agonising if their loss results from an armed conflict that could have been avoided without compromise to the common good. We pray that both sides step back from the brink of war. Along with our fellow bishops in other countries we ask our Catholic community and all people of faith to join us in this prayer.