|This photo was taken by Deborah Oster Pannell
on June 18, 1999, at
Northwestern University's Ryan Stadium. Madeleine Albright was supposed to come,
but declined, probably because of the intense protest there against
her stand on the sanctions against Iraq.
Statement on Iraq
by the Most Reverend Joseph A. Fiorenza,
Bishop of Galveston-Houston, and President, U.S. Catholic Conference
November 15, 1999
A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loudly lamenting;
it was Rachel weeping for her children,
refusing to be comforted
because they were no more. (Jr. 31:15)
Since the end of the Gulf War, the U.S. Catholic Bishops and Pope John Paul II have repeatedly called for reducing, reshaping and quickly ending the economic sanctions against Iraq that have brought such suffering to the Iraqi people.
After more than nine years of unparalleled and unmerited suffering, it is long past time to end the economic embargo against Iraq. Too many have suffered for too long. Efforts to mitigate the suffering inflicted by sanctions, namely the oil-for-food program, are important but insufficient. The comprehensive sanctions against Iraq have long since ceased to be a morally acceptable tool of diplomacy, because they have inflicted indiscriminate and unacceptable suffering on the Iraqi people. They violate a fundamental principle of engagement in conflict - - states may not seek to destroy a government or a military by targeting the innocent. It is incumbent on the United Nations Security Council and the United States, as the chief proponent of sanctions, to terminate promptly the economic embargo against Iraq.
…Even honorable causes may not be defended with immoral means. Such is the case of embargoes that contribute to untimely death, chronic illness, and reduced life-expectancy among innocent civilians. The cumulative effects of the prolonged embargo mean that many of the most vulnerable are, like Rachel's children, no more.
… Our concerns with U.S. policy toward Iraq are not limited to the embargo. We remain deeply concerned about the ongoing air strikes against Iraq. The moral justification of such attacks is, at best, unclear, yet the risks to Iraqi civilians are real. We urge a halt to this form of low-level warfare.
It is time for a new approach to Iraq. We cannot turn a deaf ear to the suffering of the Iraqi people or a blind eye to the moral consequences of current U.S. policy. It is time to end comprehensive sanctions against Iraq, [and] halt the ongoing air strikes.