WASHINGTON (December 17, 1998) -- Echoing Pope John Paul II's remarks earlier in the day, the Chairman of the Bishops' International Policy Committee today voiced opposition to the use of military force against Iraq.
"Our nation and the international community must pursue their legitimate goals in a way consistent with fundamental human rights and the principles governing the use of military force," said Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick of Newark.
He said that while people of good will may come to different conclusions, "in my view, it would seem that these military strikes unduly risk violating just war criteria."
According to the just war theory, war may be morally justifiable under certain circumstances and within certain limitations. Among the criteria singled out by Archbishop McCarrick were non-combatant immunity, proportionality, and probability of success.
"We fear this latest escalation will not succeed in bringing about Iraqi compliance with its obligations and will not strengthen peace and security in the region, yet it will effectively punish the Iraqi people for the actions of an authoritarian regime over which they have no control," Archbishop McCarrick said. "For these reasons, I concur with the Holy See's opposition to the use of force."
In Rome today Pope John Paul II said that in dealing with Iraq the international community must take actions that avoid "turning populations into innocent victims."
While voicing his opposition to the U.S. and British military strikes against Iraq, Archbishop McCarrick was careful to note the Iraqi government's failure to comply with its obligations to the international community. He said the Iraqi government has a responsibility to "stop its internal repression, to end its threats to peace, to abandon its efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction, and to respect the legitimate role of the United Nations in ensuring that it does so."
Text of Archbishop McCarrick's statement.
Text of Bishop Pilla's statement.