Australian Bishops Urge Avoidance of War

Express Solidarity with People of Iraq

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SYDNEY, Australia, DEC. 2, 2002 ( The Australian Catholic bishops urge calm within the country in responding to terrorism, and stress the need for prayer and work to keep peace in a troubled world.

The bishops’ conference, whose members met last week, published its appeal Friday. In the document, the bishops say that the Oct. 14 bombing in Bali, attributed to Osama bin Laden-linked terrorists, «has shocked all Australians.»

«The events in Bali, a year after the Sept. 11 attacks in the USA, have deepened concern about national security and prompted new consideration of Australia’s role in the ‘war on terror,'» they say.

«The international community has increasingly focused on the possibility that the Iraqi leadership is amassing weapons of mass destruction, implying the threat of an imminent attack,» the document states. «With other Church leaders around the world, the Catholic bishops of Australia urge great restraint at this most delicate point and welcome the role of the United Nations Security Council in ensuring that Iraq meets its obligation to disarm.»

They continue: «We call especially on those in our nation who exercise political authority and diplomatic influence to do all in their power to build peace and avoid war.»

«The Australian bishops also stress the importance of solidarity with the people of Iraq,» they say. «Recurrent war and the resulting humanitarian crises have already inflicted grave suffering upon the population, and any further conflict would be a human catastrophe, with the weakest inevitably suffering the most.»

«We pray that the entire human family will embrace what Pope John Paul II has insisted, that there is ‘no peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness,’ and that this Christmas time will see all people of good will renew their commitment to build a world of justice, truth and love, where fear and violence are no more,» the bishops conclude.

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