March 25, 2011

Bishops Ask Administration to Weigh Use of Force in Libya in Light of Duty to Protect Human Life and Dignity

WASHINGTON (USCCB) — As the U.S. and other nations take military action to protect the people of Libya from their own government, the U.S. bishops asked the Obama administration to stay focused on this limited goal and mission, as well as the wellbeing of the civilian population.

“Important questions include: How is the use of force protecting the civilian population of Libya? Is the force employed proportionate to the goal of protecting civilians?” wrote Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in a March 24 letter to National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon. The bishop also urged that the use of force be continually evaluated in light of these questions: “Is it producing evils graver than the evil it hopes to address?” and “What are the implications of the use of force for the future welfare of the Libyan people and the stability of the region?”

“We know these are difficult questions to which there are few easy answers, but it is our moral responsibility as a nation to rigorously examine the use of military force in light of the need to protect human life and dignity,” said Bishop Hubbard.

Bishop Hubbard said the purpose articulated in UN Security Council Resolution 1973 to demand “a ceasefire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians” appears to meet the traditional criterion of “just cause,” but said the U.S. bishops joined Pope Benedict XVI in following the military action in Libya with “great apprehension.”

The letter is available online:

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