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NZ Catholic And Anglican Bishops On Afghanistan


Statement From the Roman Catholic and Anglican Bishops of New Zealand Concerning Bombing in Afghanistan


8 November 2001

"In the name of God, I repeat once more: Violence is the path of death and destruction, which dishonours the holiness of God and the dignity of people." Pope John Paul II, 21 October 2001

1. We support all people who wish to examine the underlying causes of the current wave of terrorism, and those many people in the United States who want to examine their own history and their own role in the world.

2. We also recognise that those who carry out the evil of terrorism morally isolate themselves from the rest of the world.

3. We challenge the rhetoric about a long war and re-affirm the moral necessity for short-term diplomatic and legal solutions.

4. We are concerned about the resulting displacement of people.

5. We urge all people in New Zealand to seek to understand Islam more accurately and build closer relationships with Muslim communities.

6. We appeal to predominantly Islamic states to respect the rights of their citizens to practice in freedom their non-Islamic faith.

7. We ask that the observance of Ramadan, which begins on November 17, be honoured by a cessation of hostilities, so providing an opportunity for negotiations leading to a just and peaceful solution.

8. We urge all Christians to make our Christian season of Advent, which begins on December 2, a time of prayer for world peace.

As bombs of the most technologically advanced, richest and most powerful nation rain down upon the hovels of some of the world's poorest people in Afghanistan, we reject the description of this bombing as a Christian Crusade, whether offered by Osama bin Laden or anyone else.

We mourn with the victims of the attacks on the United States, acknowledging the anger and grief of the citizens of that country and we repent of a world order in which such attacks are possible.

We question whether the dropping of food parcels can in any way justify the dropping of bombs.

Crises like those facing the innocent civilians of Afghanistan - death, displacement and starvation - are morally divisive, creating a pervasive and sombre anxiety even among people of goodwill. There is the potential for endless hate and bloodshed and for inter-religious strife and bigotry by people who were once fundamentally tolerant, compassionate, just and reconciling.

Those of us who live in relative security and affluence need to be honest enough to apologise most sincerely for our years of blindness to the plight of suffering peoples, the poor, and those who carry the heavy and tragic burden of history, wars, dominations and betrayals. It is an illusion to believe that terrorism can be defeated with revenge or violent reprisal. The perpetrators of terrorism should remain in moral isolation. Sadly they do not when their terrorism is matched with hostilities that cause large numbers of innocent civilian casualties.

From the Roman Catholic and Anglican Bishops of New Zealand, Meeting in Wellington, 8 November 2001.


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