(A CBCP Statement on Possible War in Iraq)

The clouds of war loom over Iraq.  The U.S. President has threatened to wage war on the Middle East nation unless it disarms itself of “weapons of mass destruction.”  This threat has alarmed the entire world.  A war with Iraq will have serious international repercussions.  Even now the moral unity of the United Nations as a voice for the whole world is being fractured. A war would seriously inflict great damage on the people of Iraq and their neighbors. Our own economy and people would most certainly be affected.

Therefore, once again we express our grave concern over this threat of war and wish to make a strong appeal for world peace.

The Lord Jesus has commanded us to love both friends and foes alike. Pope John Paul II also declares to the world: “NO TO WAR!  War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity” (Address of Pope John Paul II to the Diplomatic Corps, January 13, 2003).

We live in one world.  We belong to each other as members of the same human family under God. We must settle our differences through negotiation and dialogue, in non-violent ways – in every peaceful way possible.

We, therefore, strongly appeal with all our heart to the leaders of Iraq, the United Nations and particularly the United States to settle without recourse to arms the grave issues that threaten to become causes of war.  At this juncture of human history, with the incredible swiftness of attack and counterattack, using weapons of incredible devastation that can threaten worldwide security, the strict moral conditions of a just war are almost impossible to comply with.  If war is resorted to, it must always be absolutely the last resort.  “War is always a defeat for humanity.”

We appeal to the United Nations, including the United States and its allies to persevere in the dialogue for peace.  Give as much as necessary for the United Nations Inspection Teams to do their work.  We appeal to the leaders of Iraq to cooperate fully with the United Nations in this task without placing any impediment. We strongly appeal to the United States and its allies not to launch an offensive against Iraq without explicit authorization from the United Nations. We appeal to our own Philippine authorities not to support such a pre-emptive strike.  While authorization from the United Nations might give a war a sense of legality, our Christian sense of peace would require especially in these most uncertain times the higher demands of justice, peace and love.

On bended knees we beg the Lord to give peace to the world and turn the hearts of leaders to the ways of peace.  May Jesus, the Prince of Peace, make peace reign over the region where he was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Queen of Peace.  Finally, we ask our people to pray ardently for peace and to work for peace, knowing that god’s cause must truly be our own.

For the Catholic bishops’ Conference of the Philippines,

Archbishop of Cotabato
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

January 28, 2003