Bishops Call for Bipartisan Cooperation and Responsible Transition in Iraq

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United States and its leaders must work together in a bipartisan fashion to bring about a responsible transition in Iraq that ends the war at the earliest opportunity and minimizes the loss of...


WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United States and its leaders must work together in a bipartisan fashion to bring about a responsible transition in Iraq that ends the war at the earliest opportunity and minimizes the loss of lives, American and Iraqi. This was the major thrust of a statement by Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane , the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, that was affirmed by the full body of bishops at their general meeting on November 12 in Baltimore .

"As the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops gathers in Baltimore , our thoughts and prayers are with our military personnel in Iraq , their families, and all the suffering people of Iraq," Bishop Skylstad said.

The statement decried "the political stalemate in Iraq that blocks national reconciliation" and "finds a parallel" in "the political and partisan stalemate in Washington." Bishop Skylstad continued, "Our country needs a new direction to reduce the war's deadly toll and to bring our people together to deal with the conflict's moral and human dimensions. Our nation needs a new bipartisan approach to Iraq policy based on honest and civil dialogue."

The statement noted that our nation faces important challenges and decisions about the terrible dilemmas in Iraq . "Our nation must focus more on the ethics of exit than on the ethics of intervention. The morally and politically demanding but carefully limited goal of responsible transition should aim to reduce further loss of life and address the humanitarian crisis in Iraq , the refugee crisis in the region, the need to help rebuild the country and human rights, especially religious freedom."

The complete statement has been attached. Also attached, is a Q & A prepared by Bishop Thomas G. Wenski, chairman of the Committee on International Policy.

A Call for Bipartisan Cooperation on Responsible Transition in Iraq

A Statement of the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Bishop William S. Skylstad, Bishop of Spokane

November 13, 2007

Our nation and its leaders face important decisions about the difficult challenges and terrible dilemmas in Iraq . As the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops gathers in Baltimore , our thoughts and prayers are with our military personnel in Iraq , their families, and all the suffering people of Iraq . In this statement we seek to draw on our moral teaching to continue raising some ethical questions regarding the road ahead for our nation in Iraq .

Our Church both ministers among our troops and shares deep spiritual ties to the Church and people in Iraq . Pope Benedict XVI in his Urbi et Orbi Easter message of 2007 focused the world's attention on Iraq , a nation "torn apart by continual slaughter." As pastors and teachers, we are convinced that the current situation in Iraq remains unacceptable and unsustainable. Our Conference offers once again the goal of a "responsible transition" as an overall ethical framework for national decisions.

The dangerous political stalemate in Iraq that blocks national reconciliation finds a parallel in our own nation. We are alarmed by the political and partisan stalemate in Washington. Some policy makers seem to fail to recognize sufficiently the reality and failures in Iraq and the imperative for new directions. Others seem to fail to recognize sufficiently the potential human consequences of very rapid withdrawal. These two forms of denial have helped contribute to partisan paralysis.

As pastors, we have called for bipartisan action for almost two years. Our country needs a new direction to reduce the war's deadly toll and to bring our people together to deal with the conflict's moral and human dimensions. Our nation needs a new bipartisan approach to Iraq policy based on honest and civil dialogue.

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