WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 21, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the letter dated Sept. 19 and sent by the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to President George W. Bush this week.
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Dear Mr. President:
In the aftermath of last week´s terrorist attacks, I would like to reiterate that we stand in solidarity with you and the American people in prayer for our beloved nation at this time of terrible loss and momentous decisions.
The war-like acts of last Tuesday were appalling attacks not only against our nation but against all humanity. Our nation, in collaboration with others, has a moral right and a grave obligation to defend the common good against such terrorist attacks. Therefore, we 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. It is incumbent upon all citizens to recognize this common threat, and to be willing to make appropriate sacrifices in support of our nation´s multi-faceted and long-term effort to respond in a morally responsible way.
Your administration has been clear that a broad range of security, political, diplomatic, legal and military measures will be necessary to stop this kind of terrorism and bring the perpetrators and their supporters to justice. 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. Our nation must ensure that the grave obligation to protect innocent human life governs our nation´s political and military decisions.
As we undertake the heavy burden of defending the common good, in morally appropriate ways, against global terrorism, we must not lose sight of the ultimate goal and responsibility of using our nation´s considerable influence and power to contribute to a more just and peaceful world. Among other things, I hope our foreign policy will give new emphasis to deepening our engagement with the Arab and Muslim worlds and, in particular, will continue every effort to press for a just and peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
I want to commend you for calling on Americans to repudiate acts of ethnic and religious intolerance. Arab-Americans and Muslims are not our enemies but are our brothers and sisters, part of our national family. Attacks on them are attacks on all of us. Your continued leadership in this area will be critical in the months ahead.
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.”
Most Reverend Joseph A. Fiorenza