U.S. Has "Grave Responsibilities" in Iraq, Says Bishop

Calls for Examination of America’s Role in World Affairs

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 23, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The United States faces daunting challenges in Iraq as it fulfills its «grave moral responsibilities» in helping to rebuild that nation, says the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference.

Moreover, said Bishop Wilton Gregory in a statement Tuesday, the war and occupation have raised «fundamental questions about the U.S. role in the world.»

«As the principal occupying power in Iraq, the United States now has responsibility for sustained, long-term efforts to help the Iraqi people build a stable, pluralistic, democratic and prosperous Iraq,» the Belleville bishop said. «Unfortunately, there are no simple or quick ways of achieving these goals.»

Bishop Gregory recalled several previous occasions since September 2002 when the bishops’ conference raised «grave moral concerns» about pre-emptive military intervention in Iraq.

«The events of the past year have reinforced those ethical concerns,» he said.

While welcoming recent U.S. initiatives at the United Nations, Bishop Gregory said the future U.S. role in world affairs should be re-examined.

Specifically, he cited the need to find ways other than preventive war to deal with challenges posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism; to abide by strict limits on the use of military force; and to strengthen the United Nations and respect international law, including the Geneva Conventions.

«Our nation cannot accept a permissive interpretation of international law, the inevitability of civilian casualties or the abuse of human rights, or an over-reliance on military responses to the problem of global terrorism,» Bishop Gregory said.

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