"War Would Indeed Be a Defeat for Humanity"

DUBLIN, Ireland, MARCH 14, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Following their spring
meeting this week, the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference issued the
following statement on the Iraqi crisis.

* * *

As we prepare to celebrate the Feast of St Patrick, who brought the
Gospel of Peace to Ireland, there is great tension in the world
regarding the Iraqi situation. Whether or not war should be declared on
Iraq raises questions of profound moral and religious concern, as is
clear from recent public demonstrations in Ireland. As the UN Security
Council prepares to meet yet again to consider a further Resolution on
Iraq, it is essential that our attitude in Ireland to this debate is
based on sound moral and humanitarian principles.

Earlier this year Pope John Paul II emphatically said: "No to war ...
War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity". The
Irish Bishops' Conference wishes to add its voice of that of the Holy
Father, and to the Bishops' Conferences of the United States, England &
Wales, France and many other countries on this issue. The resort to war
on Iraq would indeed be a defeat for humanity and we would all be
greatly diminished by it. Furthermore we must consider the consequences
of any war on the people of Iraq.

We are heartened by the position taken recently by the Irish Government
on the UN Security Council in upholding the role of the United Nations
and the primacy of International Law. The United Nations Charter
requires all states to refrain from the "threat or use of force against
the territorial integrity or political integrity of any state". There is
a danger now that this key requirement of international peace and
security will be put aside as the option of a pre-emptive war is being
actively considered. We urge the Irish Government to reject such a
course of action and to continue to work diplomatically for a just
solution based on law and on humanitarian principles. In the words of
Pope John Paul II, "War cannot be decided upon, even when it is a matter
of ensuring the common good, except as the very last option". In our
view, the case has not been made that such a war is the very last
option.

In appealing to the Irish Government, and through them to other world
leaders, to take all possible steps to actively promote a political
solution to this crisis, we beg the Iraqi leadership to cease its
repression of the Iraqi people and to cooperate fully with the Arms
Inspectors.

We are particularly concerned about the humanitarian disaster that will
befall Iraq in the event of war. Trscaire, the Irish Catholic Agency for
World Development, is already playing a key role in preparing for such
an outcome by helping to provide food and medicines for wounded and
displaced civilians throughout Iraq. Furthermore many Iraqi church
workers have received specialised training to help cope with the crisis
if it occurs. We urge our people to be as generous as possible in
contributing to all organisations involved in this humanitarian effort.

In reaffirming our support for all persons and groups who are engaged in
the building of peace and the promoting of justice, we encourage the
Irish people to continue to pray fervently that a peaceful solution may
yet be found and that the many years of human suffering in Iraq can be
brought to a just and peaceful end.

"Blessed are the peacemakers: they shall be called children of God"
(Matthew 5:9).