News Release

Why Did the Pope Avoid Addressing the Iraq War?


Available for a limited number of interviews, Gumbleton is a Catholic Bishop from Detroit. He said Thursday: “While it’s disappointing that the Pope has not addressed the Iraq war in his trip yet, I expect he will do so at the United Nations.

“Back in 1965, Paul VI said ‘No more war! Never again war!’ at the United Nations. In 1982, John Paul II, while accepting nuclear deterrence, said that it could be acceptable only as a step toward total disarmament — so we should abolish nuclear weapons. It’s my hope that Benedict speaks not only against this war in Iraq, but against all war.

“In 1991 John Paul II repeated the cry of Paul the VI in an encyclical letter, condemning the 1991 Iraq war. After that war there were over 12 years of sanctions that brought about the death of 1.5 million Iraqis, half of whom were children. This invasion has brought about the deaths of hundreds of thousands more and made refugee or displaced 4 million. We’ve had thousands of U.S. soldiers killed, even more veterans commit suicide and tens of thousands of casualties. That’s why John Paul II condemned the 1991 war and pleaded that the second one not start.”

Gumbleton’s weekly Sunday homilies given at Saint Leo Church, Detroit, from September 2001 to the present are available at the National Catholic Reporter web page.

A member of the Des Moines Catholic Worker and a former priest, Cordaro said today: “The previous Pope — before the Iraq invasion — said it would be unjust, immoral and illegal. The current Pope met with Bush and spoke to thousands in D.C. without saying anything like that. I say shame on the Pope. He uses the word ‘peace’ — but so what? Even Bush does that.

“On birth control and abortion the Pope tells Catholics: you have to agree with me. But with the Vatican’s stated stance on this war — that they are against it — isn’t backed up. The Pope and the U.S. Bishops have got to let U.S. Catholics in the military, who agree with Pope John Paul II that the war in Iraq is unjust, know that the Catholic Church will support them as conscientious objectors.

“Our church has to get real about this war. There’s no real support from the pulpit against it, no real action from the Bishops against it. The war in Iraq sadly reveals that the Catholic Church in the U.S. is far more nationalistic and militaristic than it is Roman Catholic.”

Both Gumbleton and Cordaro had signed a letter calling on the pope to protest the Iraq war: “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 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. …”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167