British Cardinal Addresses Principles of Anti-Terrorist Operation

Condemns Attacks on Muslims in United Kingdom

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

ROME, SEPT. 23, 2001 ( In an article for The Times of London, British Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O´Connor addresses the ethical principles that must govern the offensive against terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

The archbishop of Westminster also condemns the «attacks on mosques and individuals of Arab appearance» in Britain.

In the article, published Saturday and headlined «These Are the People We Must Never Forget in the Rush to Arms,» the cardinal states that he can «well understand the anger that people across the world feel at the tragic loss of so many innocent lives,» but he warns that, if justice is to be authentic, it must also lead to reconciliation.

Although Cardinal Murphy-O´Connor supports the struggle against terrorism, he says, «The response must be on the basis of justice and law, rather than revenge.»

«The instruments of international governance and law, and especially the United Nations, should be closely involved in agreeing the proper response to this atrocity, so that the entire international community will not be divided,» the archbishop of Westminster explains.

«From the Christian point of view, legal remedies are not to be reduced to considerations of retribution and punishment,» he writes. «They must be directed towards the ultimate goals of justice, reconciliation and healing.

«In the light of this principle, military action must be the last resort, when all other political, legal, and diplomatic remedies have been exhausted.»

Cardinal Murphy-O´Connor articulates three principles, which must be kept in mind, to justify war as the last resort. He writes:

«A first principle is that of proportionality. This principle is not about ´an eye for an eye.´ Rather, it concerns whether the response achieves the effective restraint of evil, or actually unleashes even graver evils. This is a key condition today, in light of the destructive power of modern weaponry and the elusive character of terrorist groups.

«A second principle relates to discrimination between the guilty and the innocent. The immediate perpetrators are already dead. The crucial and necessary search is, now, for the persons or groups who planned and authorized the attacks, and for other terrorist groups. , innocent civilians must not be targeted for the actions of terrorists or despotic governments.

«A third principle is whether military action will, in fact, achieve its purpose. There has been much speculation as to what a military response might entail. Much will depend on the roots and extent of terrorism worldwide, as revealed by current intelligence activity. But notions of a total and sustained ´war against terrorism´ carry the danger of unrestrained escalation and perpetuation of the conflict, and the multiplying of enemies in future generations.»

Cardinal Murphy-O´Connor reminds his readers that in Great Britain there are many people who come from countries where the Western Allies might attack.

There have already been «attacks on Mosques and individuals of Arab appearance. It is heartening that many distinguished political leaders and commentators have warned that reprisals against these innocent people are intolerable. Christian and Muslim leaders have, together, called for the people of Britain to grow in respect and solidarity with one another and such vulnerable groups,» the cardinal writes.

Lastly, he calls «on all Christian people to remain faithful to the great commandment of loving God and neighbor.»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation