Former President, National Conference of Catholic Bishops
STATEMENT ON THE CATHOLIC CAMPAIGN TO BAN LANDMINES
June 12, 1997
On behalf of the U.S. Catholic Conference, I am here today to announce our Catholic Campaign to Ban Landmines. We join with legislators of both parties and the leaders of veterans, human rights, religious, peace and relief organizations to pledge a massive effort to persuade the U.S. government and Congress to take the lead in securing a global ban on anti-personnel landmines. The U.S. Catholic Bishops support the legislation being introduced today by Senator Leahy because it is a decisive step toward this goal.
This issue has stark moral and human dimensions. Landmines do not distinguish between civilians and combatants, between times of peace and times of war. As indiscriminate weapons, they violate the ethical principles governing warfare. We join with Pope John Paul II and Catholic bishops from around the world in condemning their production, export and use.
The Catholic Campaign to Ban Landmines will strengthen and intensify our education and advocacy efforts. We will reach out to Catholic dioceses and parishes to insist that the U.S. join with other nations to ban the use of landmines and to secure an early global ban on these deadly and indiscriminate weapons.
In our missions and relief projects, we've seen the dead and maimed children, the lands and villages abandoned, the human terror and destruction caused by landmines. We will not be satisfied by half-measures or vague promises. It is time for a clear and strong U.S. commitment to ban these terrible weapons. We pledge our determined efforts to encourage overdue U.S. leadership, beginning with passage of the Leahy legislation to end the use of anti-personnel landmines by the United States.
Members of the Administration and Congress will be hearing from our Catholic Campaign to Ban Landmines. With our colleagues, the U.S. Catholic Bishops hope for a strong and positive response. The early banning of anti-personnel landmines is an urgent moral priority for the Catholic community.