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...

5. If USCCB originally questioned the war, why doesn't the Conference favor an immediate withdrawal?

While the Bishops' Conference raised grave moral concerns regarding the decision to invade Iraq , once the United States initiated military action our nation incurred new moral responsibilities toward the Iraqi people. As the primary occupying power in Iraq , the United States has both legal responsibilities under international law and moral responsibilities to improve security, reduce further loss of life, and help rebuild the country.

6. What is the Conference's position on fighting terrorism?

Terrorism is a crime against humanity. The Bishops' Conference unequivocally condemns all acts of terrorism. The nation has a moral right and a grave obligation to defend the common good against terrorism and to protect its people. Bolstering homeland security, denying funding to terrorist organizations and a wide range of non-military measures must be pursued. Military action may also be required. In the necessary confrontation with terrorists, our nation must guard against excessive military responses that endanger civilians, abuse prisoners or violate international humanitarian law. Such responses can abrogate human rights and undermine efforts to win hearts and minds in Iraq and throughout the Arab world. In addition, terrorism cannot be fought solely with military methods; we must address the poverty, powerlessness and injustice that terrorist leaders exploit to gain recruits.

7. Why is the Conference concerned about religious freedom in Iraq ?

Religious freedom must be protected as a matter of principle, but also to promote human rights and lay the foundation for tolerance and democracy. It would be tragic if Christians and other religious minorities had less religious freedom in post-war Iraq . Sadly, Christians and other religious minorities are suffering disproportionately from the widespread violence in Iraq and are disproportionately represented among internally displaced persons and refugees. Post-war Iraq should be a nation where people of different religions and ethnicities can live together.

8. What should our nation do about the refugee crisis?

Our nation and others must provide more support for the more than two million refugees and asylum seekers who have fled Iraq . Our Bishops' Conference urges the U.S. and other nations to provide greater support, including designating Iraqi religious minorities fleeing Iraq as a group of special concern for the purposes of refugee status and giving greater attention to Iraqi asylum requests in the United States . In addition, it is critical for the U.S. to assist other nations in the region who are struggling with a large influx of refugees, more than two million in neighboring countries. Greater humanitarian and development assistance must also be provided to the more than two million internally displaced Iraqis who have fled their homes.

9. How have the bishops expressed support for U.S. military personnel and their families?

The Bishops' Conference has repeatedly expressed support for the military and their families who bear a disproportionate burden of the struggle in Iraq . Raising grave moral questions regarding the war, its conduct and its aftermath, is not to question the commitment, skills, courage and integrity of military personnel. The Conference's criticism of the treatment of prisoners and detainees does not question the behavior of the vast majority of those in the military who serve with honor.

In addition, the Conference believes there is a moral obligation to deal with the human, medical, mental health and social costs of military action. We have a duty to heal and care. Our nation must ask: What is the moral basis for the continuing sacrifices of our military personnel? Who bears the sacrifices and burdens of this war? How will our nation bring healing and long-term help to individuals, families and communities?