Letter urges Pope to protest war during U.S. visit
I received the following beautiful, hopeful press release in my email inbox today:
A letter with over 1250 signatures has been delivered to Pope Benedict XVI in advance of his scheduled April visit to the United States. Encouraged by the Pope’s public statements “that there were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war in Iraq,” the letter asks that refuse to visit President Bush at the White House as a sign of his protest. In the event that the meeting takes place, the letter asks that he speak “as a prophet should – issuing a warning and an invitation to repentance.”
The letter makes special note of the fact that Pope Benedict will be in the United States on his birthday, and reminds him of the many children of Iraq who will not live to celebrate theirs as a result of the current war.
Those signing the letter reflect an extraordinary range of individuals – Catholic and non-Catholic, religious and lay people, academics and activists – united in their expectation that the Pope will not let the war pass in silence
To His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI
Most Holy Father:
In your own words, “today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a ‘just war’.” Yet, during your upcoming visit to the United States, you are planning to meet with President George W. Bush, whose empty justifications for the violence in Iraq lead to increasing numbers of dead, injured and displaced people. Iraqi civilians still endure the “continual slaughter” which you described in your 2007 Easter Sunday address.
Shortly before the U.S. invaded Iraq, you rightly declared that “there were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war.” You’ve also called attention to the terrible new technologies which cause indiscriminate destruction. Five years later, how much more reason you have to call for an immediate end to this war, and to refuse to meet with the President of the United States until that is accomplished.
If you kneel in grief and outrage before the cross of the tortured Christ, can you offer your blessing to a head of government who excuses the most terrible abuses of human minds and bodies as “legal”?
If meet with him you must, then meet as a prophet should – issuing a warning and an invitation to repentance. Courtesy cannot be used as an evasion of our biblical faith. Ezekiel was repeatedly reminded of his responsibility to admonish those doing evil if he desired to escape sharing in the responsibility for their sins. Shouldn’t any of us who recognize the horror of what is happening in Iraq be condemned if we are silent?
You are scheduled to be in Washington, D.C. on the anniversary of your birth. We feel sure that you will be thinking of the countless children of Iraq who never reached their fifth birthday. In 2005 alone, 122,000 Iraqi children under age five died. There are many, both within the Church and outside of it, who long for your voice to speak for those innocent dead and – face to face with those whose policies denied all respect for their lives – demand that the killing stop.
We are, in faithful hope,
[signatures deleted… post is too long!]