Dear Mr. President,

In light of Congress’ passage of the resolution giving you extraordinary power in decision-making, we urge you not to order a pre-emptive strike against Iraq. Such a strike would not be defensive in response to an attack, but would be based on the fear of the possibility of an attack on the United States or on others. It would in fact be an unprovoked initiation of a war, contrary to international law and religious ethics.

There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein poses a severe threat to stability and peace in the region. However, a pre-emptive strike as a measure to prevent war is not only unprecedented, it is not sound political or military policy. Before any military action is taken all nonviolent, diplomatic means must be taken to address the current situation. United Nations weapons inspections must be carried out. A comprehensive and implementable UN resolution must be ratified and given time to be assessed. The US must work with the international community not to build a coalition of war, but to build a coalition that can effectively and peacefully ensure that Iraq cannot obtain the components necessary to build weapons of mass destruction. It is our belief everything possible must be done to avoid military action. We also believe that the US must not act unilaterally at this time.

Armed conflict would undoubtedly result in many civilian deaths. Military action against Iraq would destabilize further the volatile situation in the Middle East, making peace more elusive than ever. It is reasonable to anticipate acts of violent retaliation against the United States should this country strike first. Effective global diplomacy without resort to military intervention is needed for true conflict resolution and the establishment of a strong base for democracy and peace in Iraq and throughout the world.

As Presidents of the conferences of religious in the Catholic Church – numbering about 110,000 religious priests, brothers, and sisters – we speak based on our values of respect for human life, compassion for those who are innocent and helpless, and justice for all people. We strongly urge you not to initiate a war against Iraq.


Canice Connors, OFMConv                                        Mary Ann Zollman, BVM 
President, CMSM                                                        President, LCWR