USCCB Day Three: Bishops not backing White House policy, Wenski says

By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Baltimore

A brief reference to “the continuing threat of fanatical extremism and global terror” within the document “Faithful Citizenship,” inserted during floor debate this morning, should not be read as an implied endorsement of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, the chair of the bishops’ Committee on International Policy told the press today.

Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando was asked if the new language means that the bishops see the war in Iraq as a legitimate part of the war on global terrorism.

“It does not imply that,” Wenski replied.

“What it does express is the concern … about those who would hijack or distort religion to resort to violence, and that’s a legitimate concern,” Wenski said.

“We speak consistently that the war on terrorism is a reality, but it has to be fought by more than just military means,” Wenski said.

“The statement of the president of the conference, which was affirmed by the body of the bishops on Monday, still stands, and it outlines very succinctly the consistent policy of the bishops’ conference for the last several years.”

That statement, issued by Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, called the current situation in Iraq “unacceptable and unsustainable,” and called for a “responsible transition.” In the past, the American bishops have voiced doubts about the moral legitimacy of the Iraq war.

“To read into that brief amendment a support of the White House policy would be a stretch,” Wenski said.

“If you follow the discussion on the amendment, that did not come up. … The ‘Faithful Citizenship’ document comes with a very extensive bibliography that will refer people back to the conference statements, especially to our position about a responsible transition from the Iraq war.”


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