Monday, March 28, 2011

US bishops: military intervention in Libya ‘appears to meet’ key just-war standard

Military intervention in Libya, in the judgment of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), “appears to meet” the just-cause criterion of Catholic teaching on just war. The USCCB, however, cautioned that it has “refrained from making definitive judgments” in light of “many prudential decisions beyond our expertise.”

“In Catholic teaching the use of force must always be a last resort that serves a just cause,” Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, wrote in a letter to National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church limits just cause to cases in which ‘the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations [is] lasting, grave and certain’ (#2309). The just cause articulated in UN Security Council Resolution 1973 to demand ‘a ceasefire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians’ appears to meet this criterion in our judgment.”

Bishop Hubbard continued:
Since the protection of civilians is paramount, a key question is: Will the coalition actions stay focused on this limited goal and mission?

In recent years, the Holy See has emphasized the role of international bodies in authorizing humanitarian interventions into sovereign nations. This has been done and international oversight remains important. The United Nations Security Council needs to continue to monitor carefully the mission and the use of force in Libya.

The just war tradition teaches that the use of force must have "serious prospects for success" and "must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated" (Catechism, #2309). Important questions include: How is the use of force protecting the civilian population of Libya? Is the force employed proportionate to the goal of protecting civilians? Is it producing evils graver than the evil it hopes to address? What are the implications of the use of force for the future welfare of the Libyan people and the stability of the region?

In addition, the use of force must be proportionate and discriminant. The justice of a cause does not lessen the moral responsibility to comply with the norms of civilian immunity and proportionality. We recognize serious efforts are being made to avoid directly targeting civilians. In fact, the just cause underlying the use of force is to protect civilians. This moral responsibility leads to continuing questions: Is force being used in ways that protect civilian lives? Are civilian casualties being avoided? Is the destruction of lives and property proportionate to the good being achieved in terms of saving civilian lives?
“Based on longstanding Church teaching and experience, we have offered moral guidance and asked key moral questions,” Bishop Hubbard concluded. “As pastors and teachers, we have refrained from making definitive judgments because the situation on the ground remains complex and involves many prudential decisions beyond our expertise.”

Read the full statement here.

1 comment:

  1. I can't help but wonder if the Bishops would have reached the same conclusion if a Republican President had done the same exact thing as Obama did? Somehow, I doubt it. Believe it or not there were more instances of Saddam harming, killing his own people, and it was more widespread than is the case now in Libya. In addition Saddam was in violation of 18 U.N. resolutions but the U.N. was in cahoots with Saddam oil for food program so their monetary interests outweighed the best interests of the civilians in Iraq, so the U.N. didn't authorize force in Iraq. These U.S. Bishops opinion is pretty much illegitimate at this point in time in my opinion. They tend to pander to the Democrats.

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