European Bishops Oppose Massive Use of Force

«Classical Categories of Justice Seem Inadequate»

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BRUSSELS, Belgium, SEPT. 19, 2001 ( The Commission of Episcopal Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) believes that the tragic attacks on the United States must lead to a rethinking of international relations.

In a message published Tuesday and sent to leaders of the European Union, the bishops´ commission stated: «Injustices exist in the world; they are the source of many political and social conflicts. The world is divided into rich and poor, and not by religions and cultures.

«The present challenge lies in a new policy of development for the poorer countries. One way to establish more just global structures, and to reduce material poverty can be found in new forms of global governance.»

The message continued: «The greatest danger in this challenge is that we give up the vision of a just and peaceful world. The aim of globalization should not be the well-being of a few, but justice for all.»

The bishops made their appeal on the eve of Friday´s meeting here of leaders of the European Union.

The European bishops strongly condemned the unprecedented attack on the American people.

«There is no justification for violence and destruction; there is no theological foundation for terrorism — not in the Christian, Jewish or Muslim faith,» they insisted.

«All responsible for the attacks must be identified and punished,» the bishops added. «Our collective sense of justice would be severely damaged if, in the face of this unspeakable [evil], its perpetrators and instigators were not brought to account.»

«However, our classical categories of justice seem inadequate to address the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington,» they stressed. «The massive use of force is not an appropriate response for restoring law and justice.»

«Political leaders face the most difficult questions of conscience in this regard,» they concluded. «We, therefore, urge the leaders of the European Union to try to do everything in their power to prevent us descending into a spiral of retaliation and war.»

The episcopal message was signed by Bishop Josef Homeyer of Hildesheim, Germany, president of COMECE; Bishop Adrianus van Luyn of Rotterdam, Netherlands, vice president of COMECE; Bishop Attilio Nicora, of the Italian bishops´ conference, vice president of COMECE; and Bishop Noel Treanor, secretary-general of COMECE.

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