August 6, 2003
Dear Friends and colleagues:
Today is the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, used this occasion to reflect on the anniversaries of Pacem in Terris (1963) and The Challenge of Peace (1983), two key documents in recent Catholic Church teaching on war and peace.
Bishop Gregory suggests that these landmark documents, while written in a very different time, retain a power and wisdom for us today as we address a range of pressing issues of war and peace. They remind us, Bishop Gregory says, that "peacemaking must be a permanent commitment, an integral part of our Christian witness."
Following upon our efforts to prevent war with Iraq, this is a time when we will continue and intensify reflection and advocacy on pressing issues of war and peace, including U.S. nuclear policy, the U.S. response to terrorism, opposition to doctrines of preemptive or preventive war, the continuing challenge of conflict and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the fratricidal conflicts in Congo, Sudan and Liberia.
The bishops will mark the anniversaries of the peace pastoral and Pope John XXIII's encyclical by setting aside time at their General Meeting in November for presentations on new developments and current thinking on nuclear weapons, terrorism, and other issues of war and peace.
The USCCB Office of International Justice and Peace will co-sponsor a Conference on war and peace with the Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, December 1 and 2, 2003. More information on this public event will be forthcoming. All are welcome!
Many dioceses, parishes, universities and other Catholic entities have already marked these anniversaries or plan to do so. We hope these efforts on the part of the bishops to commemorate these anniversaries, along with their ongoing work for justice and peace, will make a useful contribution to the broader effort to continue to respond to the challenge of peace!
Office of International Justice and Peace