Dear Member of Congress:

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) represents over 70,000 U.S. Catholic sisters. As leaders of the LCWR, we express, on behalf of all our members, both sorrow and anger at the wanton destruction of human life resulting from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. We pray and mourn with those who lost loved ones and friends and offer prayers of healing for those who suffered injury. We offer condolences and prayerful support to the families whose lives are shattered and forever changed by the violence of these past days. 

In the midst of this complex and chaotic world people of all faiths are called to be peacemakers. In the words of the prophet Micah, we are called ‘to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with God’. In our efforts to seek justice, may we do so under the guidance of wise and just leaders. We plead with you, as leaders of a free and powerful nation, to calm the language of revenge and hatred. We ask that you continue to seek clarity and a reasonable degree of certainty as you search out those responsible for the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001.

Those responsible for acts of terrorism must be brought to justice. We join with all who condemn these evil actions. Acts of terrorism, wherever they are committed, whether in the heart of our nation or elsewhere in the world, are abhorrent. Those who commit such actions cannot be allowed to escape the consequences of their actions. We ask that you engage in every possible diplomatic effort to seek, find and bring those responsible to justice. We pray that this can be done without inflicting violence on another nation. Do not let the wrath of our anger fall indiscriminately on the innocent even as we search out the guilty. Revenge and retribution will neither restore our country’s losses, not will it heal our sorrow. We are a strong and powerful nation. Wisdom, restraint, forgiveness, justice and peace are the hallmarks of the strong and righteous.

We are aware of the massive preparations underway that will ultimately lead our nation into war against an unseen and elusive enemy. We pray that this will not happen. We ask you to work diligently for justice through every legal and diplomatic channel. Let us as a nation work to end violence without ourselves resorting to violence. If in the end military force is deemed necessary in order to bring the guilty to justice, then we pray that such efforts be undertaken only against those responsible. Let us not sacrifice more lives -- American lives or the lives of those in countries far away. Let us not do to others what has been done to us. 

We pray for restoration of right relationships based on mutual respect and justice for all people. Justice is the surest foundation for a strong and lasting peace. This is not the responsibility of national leaders alone; it is the responsibility of each person, regardless of ethnic background, national heritage, faith and way of life. 

At this time, more than ever, we pray for wisdom to guide all who make decisions that will have lasting impact upon all of us here at home and abroad. We pray that compassion, mercy, justice, forgiveness and reconciliation will be the values that undergird our national actions. These are trying times. These are defining times, We pray for you, our elected national leaders, as you seek a peace grounded in justice, not retribution. God help us all!