U.S. Bishops Issue Declaration on Military Action

Appeal for Safety of Innocent Civilians

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 9, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops issued a declaration in the wake of American-British military strikes against targets in Afghanistan, in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The U.S. cardinals and bishops attending the Synod of Bishops in Rome issued the declaration this morning.

The document was signed by Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston and Bishop Wilton Daniel Gregory of Belleville, president and vice president, respectively, of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The other signatories are Baltimore´s Cardinal William Henry Keeler, Chicago´s Cardinal Francis George and New York´s Cardinal Edward Egan.

Here is the text of the declaration.

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As our nation undertakes military action, our Bishops´ Conference calls for continued prayer, resolve, and restraint in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11. We ask for prayers for our President and national leaders, for our servicemen and women, and for all those touched by those terrorist attacks.

We renew our call that our military response must be guided by the traditional limits on the use of force. Military action is always regrettable, but it may be necessary to protect the innocent or to defend the common good. We support efforts to make clear that this response is directed at those who use terror as well as those who assist them, not at the Afghan people or Islam. Measures to insure the safety of innocent civilians are both necessary and important. We strongly support humanitarian initiatives which respond to the plight of the Afghan people, especially refugees and displaced civilians.

We are encouraged by the efforts to build a global coalition to seek justice and a comprehensive response using diplomatic, economic and humanitarian as well as legitimate military means. Beyond the crisis of the moment, we continue to urge the renewal of diplomatic and other measures to secure a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis, and a world which is more just and more peaceful for all who suffer the loss of their God-given rights. Our every effort should be guided by our desire for a world that truly respects the rights and dignity of every human person.

In the midst of conflict, we pray for peace. In the aftermath of terrorism we seek justice. In response to hate, we offer love. At a time of trial we turn to God as our refuge and strength to show us the path to healing, reconciliation, and peace.

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