As the failed and immoral war in Iraq continues to rage religious leaders continue to call for an end to the conflict. Today American Roman Catholic leaders issued a new statement calling on President Bush to change direction in Iraq:
Washington, D.C. - Catholics United for the Common Good and NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, today called on President Bush to use his upcoming meeting with Pope Benedict XVI to begin formulating a new policy for peace in Iraq. The meeting, to be held on Saturday at the Vatican, comes some two months after the pope expressed grave concerns about the humanitarian crisis the war sparked, calling Iraq a country “torn apart by continual slaughter as the civil population flees.”
The Iraq War began after President Bush ignored the pleas of Pope Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II, who urged the U.S. to seek alternatives to armed conflict and called the decision to go to war “a defeat for humanity.”
“President Bush owes an unequivocal apology to our pope, to Catholics around the world, and most importantly to the Iraqi people and others directly affected by the tragedy of this unjust war,” said Chris Korzen, Executive Director of Catholics United for the Common Good. “The president's arrogant and self-serving policies in the Middle East have proven a total affront to human life and dignity, the fallout of which will continue to be felt for generations to come.”
The president has stated that he is “ready to listen” to the pope during this weekend's meeting. Many Catholics hope this signals a change of course in the Bush administration's handling of the war, and in the quality of its engagement with the broader world.
“While we can't turn back the clock to 2003 and undo the ill-fated decision to invade Iraq, our nation can take steps to repair some of the damage, and set Iraq on a more hopeful course,” said Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK. “President Bush must stop obstructing the end to the war that Catholics and millions of citizens around the world are praying for. This means that the Administration must vigorously support the Iraqi government in convening a comprehensive peace conference including all factions in Iraq, pursuing regional and international diplomacy and supporting the development of an economic renewal by Iraqis and for Iraqis.”
Both NETWORK and Catholics United are calling on President Bush and Congress to engage this broader vision for peacebuilding when they revisit the war funding question later this month. The Congressional leadership has pledged to continue to push legislation this summer that would bring a responsible end to the war.
“Right now, the crisis in Iraq is the most important issue facing U.S. Catholic voters,” said Korzen. “Our lawmakers must provide real leadership and real solutions to bring an end to the war, or face serious consequences in the upcoming elections.”
I deeply admire the Roman Catholic leadership for their continued prophetic voice on issues of war and peace and hope President Bush listens to their words and to the pleas for peace from other religious bodies such as the World Council of Churches.
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