Bishops start to think about maybe getting their act together

posted by Mike on November 14th, 2006

Perhaps inspired by The Onion’s “I Think We Should Start Talking About Starting A Band”, the Globe reports “Bishops call for change on Iraq policy”:

The bishops, who have consistently expressed moral concerns about the war, did not call for immediate withdrawal, saying the United States now has “moral responsibilities to help Iraqis to secure and rebuild their country.” But the bishops said the “terrible toll” in Iraqi and American lives now requires a discussion driven by “moral urgency, substantive dialogue, and new directions.”

There appears to be some sort of typo: the first sentence should begin: “The bishops, who have consistently and extremely quietly expressed moral concerns about the war . . . .”

This July, Catholic Worker Bob Waldrop wrote in “Liturgy and War and the U.S. Catholic Bishops“:

Skipping over the fact that the bishops endorsed the Afghan war as just, over the last five years the bishops’ statements regarding Iraq were weak, they were not given with a united voice, there was no organized catechesis (or even disorganized catechesis, for that matter) and the conference and leadership’s statements were almost immediately contradicted and rendered meaningless by the many bishops who supported the Republican and Democratic parties in the 2004 election. . . .

. . . My question is: since when did the Catholic Church endorse the use of immoral means to attain moral ends?

Only one Bishop had the courage to speak the full truth about the Iraqi War, and that was the Most Reverend John Michael Botean, of the Rumanian Catholic diocese of Canton, Ohio, who said: “. . . any direct participation and support of this war against the people of Iraq is objectively grave evil, a matter of mortal sin. . . .”

For my part, I was travelling widely in the US during the first months of 2003, going to mass and anti-war protests wherever I found myself, and I never heard a word against invading Iraq in a church, and never saw any mainstream Catholic groups doing anti-war work.

Bob writes, “I received a response to my article Liturgy and War, from the head of the bishops’ Office of Social Development and World Peace. This is my response to Mr. Colecchi’s letter.”

The message they sent on Iraq was clearly understood by everyone concerned: do what you will to the people of Iraq, we will not use our canonical authority to stand in your way. We will thus make it easy and morally comfortable for you to kill hundreds of thousands of people, most of whom will be women and children.

The Tacoma CW sent a message to their bishop Nov 10:

To this end we ask that you invite the parishes in the diocese to a day of fasting and prayer to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Those at the recent Catholic Worker Gathering sent a statement to the bishops, saying:

It is with burning sorrow that we look around at the world in which we live at the suffering, war, torture, and killing of our brothers and sisters, and realize that the response of both ourselves and our Church has been wholly inadequate. We cry out to be part of a Church that prays and works for peace, loves our enemies, and embraces the redemptive power of forgiveness. We cry out for a Church that speaks without fear of consequences, including loss of revenues.

It is with burning sorrow that I read the Globe article, and I fear I will feel that same burning sorrow again this Sunday when no mention of the bishops’ statement is made from the pulpit. I think feeling this sort of anger towards the bishops is both inappropriate and unavoidable.

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2 Comments Leave a comment.

  1. On November 15, 2006 at 15:22 Adam (Southern California) said:

    My problem is that I don’t see clearly what would be the most moral action for the U.S. to take in Iraq. Some things are clear — there should be no torture, for example. But overall I’m torn because I don’t see any of our choices there as being free from evil. Barack Obama said that in Iraq we have “bad choices and worse choices.” Leaving Iraq to its own devices now would enable the murderous insurgents to take over the country, but of course leaving the occupation in place continues the status quo*. When I pray for peace, then, what I pray for is not that our leaders take a particular course of action but for a peaceful solution to emerge, for the conflicts — both the fighting and the moral conflicts — to be resolved.

    *One way I’ve thought about it is if one considers “a democratic Iraq” to be an end which supporters of the war say justifies the means (i.e., the occupation), then would “an immediate pullout of coalition troops” be a means that justifies the ends (i.e., Iraq under theocratic tyranny)?

  2. On November 17, 2006 at 13:48 Paula Spart said:

    Good job. We should let the bishops know how we feel.


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