Cardinal McCarrick on the War in Iraq

Says Bishops Don’t Classify Soldiers’ Role as Immoral

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NEW YORK, MARCH 25, 2003 (ZENIT.orgAvvenire).- Prayer and more prayer is Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s response when asked about the war in Iraq.

In an interview with the Italian newspaper Avvenire, he said he has asked the Catholic community in the Archdiocese of Washington to pray that the war will be quick and not cause too much suffering.

The archbishop of Washington, who, together with the U.S. bishops’ conference, is opposed to the war, emphasizes that the Church is not interested in apportioning blame or reproaches, but in alleviating the suffering.

Q: What can Catholics do at this time?

Cardinal McCarrick: Pray. After the events of the last few days, the Catholic community is engaged in profound prayer.

Since the beginning of the war, we bishops have organized many Masses throughout the country and in every circumstance we have asked the community to join in prayer.

Together with our people we pray for the war to end soon. We pray for the salvation and health of our men and women in uniform, and for the life of innocent Iraqis.

Q: What else are the leaders of the Catholic Church in the United States doing?

Cardinal McCarrick: We continue to say to our government, using all possible channels, that it is important that they not target the civilian population. They have assured us that the military allies are taking every possible precaution so that this won’t happen.

But we will continue to ensure that this concern be very clear in the minds of those who decide the military strategies. It is important, and we continue to remind them, that means be used that are in proportion to the objective, and that combatants be treated with respect according to the international rules of war.

Q: Have you said this to the Bush administration?

Cardinal McCarrick: We have told the U.S. government that they must reconstruct Iraq and then they must concentrate their attention on the Holy Land to actively promote a peace dialogue.

Q: The human cost of this war is growing. What do you think?

Cardinal McCarrick: Unfortunately, the victims of war are increasing. And, whereas in the beginning it seemed that the victims would be minimal, now it seems that the human cost will be high. But we are consoled to know that for the time being a limited number of civilians have been hit.

Q: Have you seen anything over these days that has enabled you to change your judgment about the just character of the war?

Cardinal McCarrick: For the time being, we have seen no proofs that would make us change our opinion on the war. Weapons of mass destruction have not yet been found.

For the time being, our judgment is in abeyance in this regard. The feeling is that Iraq has not told the whole truth about the weapons of mass destruction, but we do not have enough facts to say if this was the only possible way to disarm it.

Q: One-third of the U.S. soldiers are Catholic. For them, this war represents a moral dilemma.

Cardinal McCarrick: Certainly. Because of this, as an episcopal conference we have been very careful not to classify their participation in the conflict as immoral, both because we are not up-to-date on all the facts that have led to the conflict, as well as because these young people do not have decision-making power.

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