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MER - Washington - 21 January 1998:
   While the press is preoccupied with "Zipper-Gate", the American military is in the process of making final preparations for another major assault on Iraq. Pursuing its basic "dual containment" strategy to dominate and control the Middle East region, the Americans are poised for another major assault.
    The Catholic church is usually much too late with much too little when it comes to U.S. foreign policy, especially matters relating to the Middle East and to Israel.
    And overall that is the case with this most recent "U.S. Bishops' Statement" issued on 20 January in the form of a news conference and an Open Letter to President Clinton.  Iraq is already devastated, American policies are near-genocidal with nearly 5% of its population having been killed and the entire country already prostrate.
    But in one important sense this "Bishops' Statement" is timely -- it pleads for no further military action.  And for that reason it is timely important and should be widely read and emulated before the bombs begin falling again.
    Even so, it should not be overlooked that the Bishops' Press Conference and Open Letter came on the very day President Clinton was meeting with the Israeli Prime Minster; yet not a peep about the misnomered "Peace Process" which is one of the other main American pillars of its brutal, duplicitous, and dangerous Middle East policies.

U.S. Bishops' Statement - January 20, 1998

President William Clinton
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

     We, Bishop Members of Pax Christi-USA and other bishops, are writing to you to express our profound moral concerns about the U.S.-led sanctions against the people of Iraq. In conscience, we urge you to call for the immediate lifting of the sanctions by the U.N. Security Council, to end all U.S. support for these sanctions, and to refrain from any military action in the current dispute.

     In 1993, on the 10th anniversary of our pastoral letter, "The Challenge of Peace," we U.S. Catholic Bishops issued "The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace." In this document, we acknowledged that "in the aftermath of the Cold War, economic sanctions have become a more common form of international pressure....as a means of combating aggression short of military intervention....In each case [in which they have been applied] we have consulted closely with the church in the country affected and have been guided by its judgment."

     In our document, we have enunciated four criteria for the assessment of the morality of the use of sanctions:

  * Concerns about the limited effectiveness of sanctions and theharms caused to civilian populations require that comprehensive sanctions be considered only in response to aggression or grave and ongoing injustice after less coercive measureshave been tried and with clear and reasonable conditions setfor their removal.

  * The harm caused by sanctions should be proportionate to thegood likely to be achieved; sanctions should avoid grave andirreversible harm to the civilian population. Therefore, sanctions should be targeted as much as possible against those directly responsible for the injustice, distinguishingbetween the government and the people....Embargoes, when employed, must make provisions for the fundamental human needs of the civilian population. The denial of basic needsmay not be used as a weapon.

  * The consent to sanctions by substantial portions of theaffected population is morally relevant...

  * Sanctions should always be part of a broader process ofdiplomacy aimed at finding an effective solution to the injustice.

We find that after seven years, the sanctions against Iraqviolate these criteria.

     Sanctions have taken the lives of well over one million persons,60% of whom are children under five years of age. The 1991 bombingcampaign destroyed electric, water and sewage plants, as well asagricultural, food and medical production facilities. All of thesestructures continue to be inoperative, or function at sub-minimallevels, because the sanctions have made it impossible to buy spareparts for their repair.

     This bombing campaign, together with the total embargo in placesince August 1990 was, and is, an attack against the civilianpopulation of Iraq. Such counter-population warfare has beenunequivocally condemned by the most authoritative teaching body ofthe Catholic Church, The Second Vatican Council (1962- 1965).

     Independent agencies continue to document the devastating impactsanctions are having on the civilian population. These include theUnited Nation's own World Health Organization (WHO)  and the Food andAgriculture Organization (FAO). In 1996, UNICEF reported that 4,500children were dying monthly.   Leaders of the church in Iraq tell usthat sanctions must end. For example, Archbishop Gabriel Kassab, of thesouthern region of Iraq, stated: "Epidemics rage, taking away infantsand the sick by the thousands. Those children who survive diseasesuccumb to malnutrition, which stunts their physical and mental
development. Our situation is unbearable!...We appeal to people ofconscience to work to end the blockade of Iraq...Let it be known thatResolution 986 (the so-called 'oil-for-food' resolution) has servedto divert world attention from the tragedy, while in some respectsaggravating it."

     In fact, only 53% of money received for the sale of oil isavailable to Iraq. Thirty percent of the money realized from the oilrevenues is paid to Kuwait, and a sizable amount covers various costsof the U.N. expenses in Iraq. The food and medicine for Iraqi children,and the rest of the civilian population, from Resolution 986, areconstantly delayed, largely because of the extraordinary complexityof the procedures for the implementation of the resolution.

     Mr. President, whatever the intent of these sanctions, we arecompelled by this assessment to judge them to be a violation of moralteaching, specifically as articulated within the Catholic tradition. Infact, the sanctions are not only in violation of the teaching of theCatholic Church, but they violate the human rights of Iraqi people,because they deprive innocent people from food and medicine, basicelements for normal life. We call for the immediate cessation ofsanctions against Iraq.

     We sincerely hope you will give careful consideration to the moralissues we have raised. We are willing to work with you in trying tofind a truly just path to peace in the Middle East.

 Sincerely yours,

Juan A. Arzube, Former Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, CA
Victor H. Blake, Bishop of Crooks ton, MN
Joseph M. Breitenbeck, Former Bishop of Grand Rapids, MI
Kevin M. Britt, Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit, MI
Charles A. Buswell, Former Bishop of Pueblo, CO
Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap, Bishop of Denver, CO
John G. Chedid, Eparch of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles, CA
Matthew H. Clark, Bishop of Rochester, NY
Patrick R. Cooney, Bishop of Gaylord, MI
Thomas J. Costello, Auxiliary Bishop of Syracuse, NY
Nicholas N. D'Antonio, Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans, LA
Joseph P. Delaney, Bishop of Fort Worth, TX
Robert W. Donnelly, Auxiliary Bishop of Toledo, OH
Joseph A. Ferrario, Former Bishop of Honolulu, HI
John J. Fitzpatrick, Former Bishop of Brownsville, TX
Patrick F. Flores, Archbishop of San Antonio, TX
Thomas Gunbleton, Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit, MI
Richard C. Hanifen, Bishop of Colorado Springs, CO
Joseph L. Howze, Bishop of Biloxi, MS
William L. Higi, Bishop of Lafayette, IN
James Hoffman, Bishop of Toledo, OH
Howard J. Hubbard, Bishop of Albany, NY
Raymond G. Hunthausen, Former Archbishop of Seattle, WA
William A. Hughes, Former Bishop of Covington, KY
Ibrahim Ibrahim, Bishop Eparch to St. Thomas the Apostle, MI
Joseph L. Imesch, Bishop of Joliet, IL
Raymond A. Lucker, Bishop of New Ulm, MN
Leroy T. Matthiesen, Former Bishop of Amarillo, TX
John E. McCarthy, Bishop of Austin, TX
Lawrence J. McNamara, Bishop of Grand Island, NB
John J. McRaith, Bishop of Owensboro, KY
Dale J. Melczek, Bishop of Gary, IN
Donald W. Montrose, Bishop of Stockton, CA
Francis P. Murphy, Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore, MD
Michael J. Murphy, Former Bishop of Erie, PA
James D. Niedergeses, Former Bishop of Nashville, TN
William C. Newman, Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore, MD
Gerald F. O'Keefe, Former Bishop of Davenport, IA
Albert H. Ottenweller, Former Bishop of Steubenville, OH
Michael Pfeifer, OMI, Bishop of San Angelo, TX
Kenneth J. Povish, Former Bishop of Lansing, MI
Francis A. Quinn, Former Bishop of Sacramento, CA
James A. Quinn, Auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland, OH
Peter A. Rosazza, Auxiliary Bishop of Hartford, CT
Walter J. Schoenherr, Former Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit, MI
Richard J. Sklba, Auxiliary Bishop of Milwaukee, WI
John J. Snyder, Bishop of St. Augustine, FL
Joseph M. Sullivan, Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn, NY
Walter F. Sullivan, Bishop of Richmond, VA
Kenneth E. Untener, Bishop of Saginaw, MI
Rene A. Valero, Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn, NY
Daniel F. Walsh, Bishop of Las Vegas, NV
J. Kendrick Williams, Bishop of Lexington, KY
Gavaino Zavala, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, CA

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