WASHINGTON (November 16, 1999) -- Today Most Reverend Joseph A. Fiorenza, Bishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, forcefully restated the bishops' repeated calls to end the economic embargo against Iraq.
"It is time to end comprehensive sanctions against Iraq, halt the ongoing airstrikes, and find morally acceptable alternatives to contain the aggressive actions of the Iraqi government," said Bishop Fiorenza.
"The comprehensive sanctions against Iraq have long ceased to be a morally acceptable tool of diplomacy," said Bishop Fiorenza, "because they have inflicted indiscriminate and morally unacceptable suffering on the Iraqi people." Bishop Fiorenza added that efforts to mitigate the effects of the embargo through the U.N. oil-for-food program had proven inadequate to meet the needs of the Iraqi civilian population.
Bishop Fiorenza pointed out that Iraq "bears primary responsibility for resolving outstanding disputes" and "for the failure of humanitarian efforts because of the regime's deliberate diversion and misallocation of resources within Iraq." But Bishop Fiorenza emphasized that "the international community still bears a large measure of responsibility for the plight of the Iraqi people."
Bishop Fiorenza's statement was affirmed by the full body of bishops during their annual meeting in Washington, DC. In discussing the statement, many bishops took the opportunity to raise the episcopal conference's long-standing concerns about the human impact of the U.S. embargo against Cuba.