WASHINGTON (September 20, 2001) -- In a letter to President Bush, Galveston-Houston Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, expressed support for efforts "to seek out and hold accountable" those responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, saying that the bishops were praying for him to "find just, wise and effective ways to respond with resolve and restraint to the long-term task of ending terrorism."
In the letter, dated September 19, Bishop Fiorenza said that the Bishops "stand in solidarity with you and the American people in prayer for our beloved nation at this time of terrible loss and momentous decisions."
Referring to the United States' "moral right" and "grave obligation to defend the common good" against such attacks, Bishop Fiorenza said that the Bishops "support efforts by our nation and the global community to seek out and hold accountable, in accord with national and international law, those individuals, groups and governments which are responsible."
"While we must take into account the unique nature of this new kind of terrorist threat, any military response must be in accord with sound moral principles, notably the norms of the just war tradition such as probability of success, civilian immunity, and proportionality," Bishop Fiorenza wrote, adding that "our nation must ensure that the grave obligation to protect innocent human life governs our nation's political and military decisions."
Bishop Fiorenza commended the president for "calling on Americans to repudiate acts of ethnic and religious intolerance." Saying that "Arab-Americans and Muslims are not our enemies," Bishop Fiorenza said that "attacks on them are attacks on all of us."
"We pray that you will find just, wise and effective ways to respond with resolve and restraint to the long-term task of ending terrorism, confident, in the words of Pope John Paul II, that Americans will not 'give in to the temptation to hatred and violence, but [will] commit themselves to serving justice and peace,'" Bishop Fiorenza concluded.
Full text of Bishop Fiorenza's letter delivered to the White House September 19.