Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

U.S. Bishops offer advice on Iran

Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Chairman of the Committee on International Peace and Justice for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has written a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding Iran’s refusal to acknowledge its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and open its facilities for inspection. Here is an excerpt:
Based on the Church’s teaching on war and peace, the Bishops’ Conference urges the U.S. Government to continue to explore all available options to resolve the conflict with Iran through diplomatic, rather than military, means. As Pope Benedict XVI has stated: “As far as Iran is concerned, tireless efforts must be made to seek a negotiated solution to the controversy concerning the nation’s nuclear program, through a mechanism capable of satisfying the legitimate demands of the country and of the international community.” Before military options are considered, all alternatives, including effective and targeted sanctions and incentives for Iran to engage in diplomacy and cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), need to be exhausted.

From a moral perspective, in the absence of an immediate threat against the United States or our allies, military action would constitute an act of preventive war. The Catholic Church teaches: “[E]ngaging in a preventive war without clear proof that an attack is imminent cannot fail to raise serious moral and juridical questions.” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 501) In Catholic teaching, the use of force must always be a last resort. Iran’s bellicose statements, its failure to be transparent about its nuclear program and its possible acquisition of nuclear weapons are serious matters, but in themselves they do not justify military action.

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