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Priest makes excellent case against intervention in Iraq Print
Letters to the editor
Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009 -- 1:00 AM

To the editor:

Fr. Jim Murphy’s letter in the December 25 edition makes an excellent case against our country’s military intervention in Iraq.

The U.S. Catholic bishops have counseled against the war from the beginning. The cost in money (trillions) and in people (thousands of our sons and daughters killed or maimed for life) is an unspeakable burden in our crashing economy and in the life of our communities.

It violates the principles of proportionality and the Church’s teaching on what could be considered a just war. The breaking of international law (torture) and our inability to achieve our stated ideals (democracy, law, and order) are an embarrassment to those of us who love our country. Moreover, we know now that some of the main justifications for going to war were based on false information (WMDs) and an overweaning sense of manifest destiny (the U.S. is right and those who oppose us are wrong).

There are countless reasons to oppose this war, and refusing to participate in it would be a clear and personal way to express that. Thus, Father Murphy concludes that “participation in the U.S. military at this point in history would likely involve immoral activity.”

Unfortunately, two letters in response (January 8) objected that this is an insult to those serving in Iraq and that Catholics in the military could help promote moral choices and tactics in the struggle we must continue for years to come.

The first is simply untrue. We honor and support our service people by speaking out against our nation’s misuse of their skills, bravery, and dedication. Also, most of them have little choice but to obey orders, for the safety of their comrades. Those who could have a moral influence are higher up in the chain of command.

The Church has praised those who have resisted unjust wars and oppression (recently, St. Franz Jaegerstatter, who resisted in Germany in World War II). They were opposed by the majority of their fellow citizens, who considered them unpatriotic and even treasonous.

With humility, wisdom, and courage, we need to pray that we support what is true and loving in the difficult moral choices of our day.

Fr. Stephen J. Umhoefer, Pastor, Nativity of Mary Parish, Janesville=