Concept of "Preventive War" Is Inadmissible, Say Italian Bishops

U.N. Authorization Isn’t Enough, They Contend

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ROME, JAN. 30, 2003 ( Simple U.N. authorization doesn’t justify a «preventive war» with Iraq, and in any case such a military action would be unacceptable because it is unlimited, say Italy’s bishops.

The Italian episcopate manifested its position on an eventual conflict in Iraq during a press conference to present the final statement of the bishops’ Permanent Council, which met here Jan. 20-22.

Bishop Giuseppe Betori, secretary-general of the episcopal conference, said that while «the U.N.’s authorization is an element that can never be given up in a military action, […] it is not the only one.»

«If the preventive dimension of a war continues and the conflict in question is not a concrete response to a situation of attack,» the U.N. authorization does not make a war just, he said.

The very concept of preventive war is «unacceptable in itself, because prevention, in fact, has no limit,» the bishop added. «Without a concrete situation of threat, actual or possible, no act of war can be justified.»

In regard to the possibility that the U.N. inspectors might find weapons of mass destruction on Iraqi soil, Bishop Betori emphasized that «it is not the competence of bishops to judge the degree and level in which such weapons can become a concrete and effective threat.»

Regarding war scenarios, «the Church’s intervention is in the aspect of the formation of consciences,» he said. «Today it is not enough to make appeals for peace, but consciences must be formed capable of carrying out concrete plans of peace; otherwise, invitations to peace are ineffective.»

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