Anti-Terrorism Reprisals Go Too Far, Say 2 Religious Groups

Protest Against Large Number of Victims

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JACKSONVILLE, Florida, MARCH 5, 2002 ( Two organizations of U.S. religious have expressed concern over what they say is the country´s indiscriminate response to terrorist attacks.

This position was made public during the annual joint meeting of the National Boards of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) of the United States, held in Jacksonville recently.

A declaration entitled «Leaders of Religious Institutes Committed to Paths of Peace and Justice» was approved at the end of the meeting.

«We grieve for the thousands of innocent lives that have been lost on and since September 11, 2001, through acts of terror and military response,» the statement says. «We believe the conditions that give rise to violence in our world must be addressed.»

«We also believe no condition justifies use of terror and violence against innocent people. We do not believe that the use of military action that causes disproportionate destruction of human life, can be justified,» the declaration continues.

In particular, the religious express their concern that the proposed threat to «expand action to other regions and countries will lead to a rapid escalation of military action, without clear objectives and reasonable expectation of success.»

«Human rights and the dignity of persons are threatened when anyone is detained without clear cause, due process, or fair treatment,» the religious emphasize. Moreover, «civil liberties are at risk when policies intended to increase security in our own country are overly restrictive or unevenly applied.»

The religious contend that «the needs of those who are poor or marginalized in our own country are being sacrificed to fund a large increase in military and homeland security expenditures.»

Indeed, in «his own time, Jesus, speaking to a people under occupation by a military power, said, ´Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.´ Today, as we live in an era of unprecedented violence, we commit ourselves to seek new paths of peace and justice, to address the many forms of violence in our midst, and to forge new bridges of understanding that give birth to hope and human dignity,» the declaration stresses.

The membership of CMSM and of LCWR comprises about 1,500 religious leaders who are responsible for more than 700 Catholic institutes in the United States. Combined, the conferences´ members represent more than 100,000 of the country´s vowed sisters, brothers and religious priests.

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