President Bush, Congress must heed Bishops’ plea


The U.S. Bishops have acknowledged that the current situation in Iraq is unacceptable and unsustainable, and have called upon Congress and President Bush to break the stalemate surrounding the war. Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, Florida, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Policy, responded to U.S. Representative Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and 13 other Catholic House Democrats who urged the bishops to become more involved in the efforts to end the war in Iraq. Bishop Wenski and other bishops intend to meet with members of Congress to discuss their concerns.

In his letter to the members of Congress, Bishop Wenski stated that “too many Iraqi and American lives have been lost,” and suggested that the “human and financial costs of the war” are too high. Echoing the late Pope John Paul II’s warning that the war would result in tragedy, the bishop called upon the President and Congress to begin constructive dialogue toward ending the tragic war.

In strong words for the nation’s political leaders, Bishop Wenski stated that the United States “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 the difficult path that does the most good and the least damage in human and moral terms.”

Last Sunday afternoon, in his weekly Angelus message, Pope Benedict XVI recalled the August 1, 1917 “Note to the Belligerent Powers,” in which the courageous Pope Benedict XV called for an end of the “useless slaughter” of the First World War. The Holy Father, echoing that call, stated: “We need to make a treasury of the negative experiences that our fathers sadly suffered, that they might not be repeated.”

Sadly, such negative experiences continue to bring the world suffering, especially in Iraq. Bishop Wenski and the U.S. Bishops have rightly called upon the President and Congress to break the political stalemate and begin to address an end to the war in Iraq. We urge them all to heed the words of both Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II in their speeches to the United Nations General Assembly when, in the name of the Church, they called out: “Never again war!”