Bishops urge caution on handling Iran’s nuclear threat

News release from USCCB

WASHINGTON — The U.S. bishops urged U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to work to reduce nuclear arms and maintain security in the Middle East in a March 2 letter about Iran from Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines. Bishop Pates chairs the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Bishop Pates acknowledged “the difficult situation involving our nation, the international community and Iran” including Iran’s refusal to acknowledge its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to open its facilities for inspection.

“Their refusal exacerbates suspicions that Iran is developing its nuclear capability to produce weapons rather than energy,” he said. Bishop Pates noted that the Conference of Bishops has always expressed “strong objection to Iran’s acquiring nuclear weapons.”

He voiced concern over what he called “an alarming escalation in rhetoric and tensions,” including Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz to commercial traffic and speculation on the possible use of force against Iran, including an Israeli pre-emptive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

“The Bishops’ Conference urges the U.S. Government to continue to explore all available options to resolve the conflict with Iran through diplomatic, rather than military, means,” Bishop Pates said.

“Before military options are considered, all alternatives, including effective and targeted sanctions and incentives for Iran to engage in diplomacy and cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), need to be exhausted,” he added.

“In Catholic teaching, the use of force must always be a last resort. Iran’s bellicose statements, its failure to be transparent about its nuclear program and its possible acquisition of nuclear weapons are serious matters, but in themselves they do not justify military action,” Bishop Pates said.

“Discussing or promoting military options at this time is unwise and may be counterproductive. Actual or threatened military strikes are likely to strengthen the regime in power in Iran and would further marginalize those in Iran who want to abide by international norms. And, as the experience in Iraq teaches, the use of force can have many unintended consequences,” he said.

“Iran is an example of the significant threat posed to global security by a proliferation of nuclear weapons. The specific situation of Iran should be viewed within the wider search for a just and peaceful world built on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. A morally responsible nonproliferation strategy must be tied to a clear strategy for reducing and ultimately ending the reliance on nuclear weapons by any country. The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty itself ties nonproliferation to eventual nuclear disarmament.”

To read Bishop Pates’ entire letter to Secretary of State Clinton, Click Here.


Posted Thursday, March 08, 2012 12:11 AM By Sawyer
Israel won’t wait until there is a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv before it acts to neutralize Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Posted Thursday, March 08, 2012 5:11 AM By Ski Ven
Under Catholic teaching, is Israel obligated to wait until the first round of nukes are fired at them before they are allowed to do something?

Posted Thursday, March 08, 2012 5:45 AM By Fr. Richard Perozich
The U.S. is not the police force for the world, but it should protect America and our citizenry from threats to us.

Posted Thursday, March 08, 2012 5:56 AM By ANNE
The “Just War Doctrine” can be found in the CCC #2309. Why is the USCCB is writing to Obama appointee Hillary Clinton, both of whom could care less about the Catholic Church? It’s more important that catechesis take place or in a few more generations there will be almost no true Catholics. The Bishops still do not publically promote reading and studing of the CCC.

Posted Thursday, March 08, 2012 6:19 AM By 4unborn
I am disappointed that the bishops are taking political sides. I am outraged that they are taking the Obama position! Iran IS developing nuclear weapons. It is secretive, not just suspicious. The bishops could at least affirm the sovereign state of Israel’s right to defend itself by itself when it decides necessary.

Posted Thursday, March 08, 2012 6:25 AM By SoCal
Why must the Bishops speak out on matters outside of their competence and that are matters of prudential judgement yet remain silent when public scandal is given by promtion of intrinsic evils?

Posted Thursday, March 08, 2012 6:56 AM By Cody in Tucson
How naive! But I do have a suggestion for Bishop Pates. In the last 3-4 months Bishop Kicanas has been to the Holy Land, Baghdad, Egypt, Haiti and who knows where else. He likes to dialogue, so why not send him to Tehran as a special envoy to ‘Bernardin’ that little nut job to death who runs the country.

Posted Thursday, March 08, 2012 7:21 AM By Larry
“Iran’s bellicose statements, its failure to be transparent about its nuclear program and its possible acquisition of nuclear weapons are serious matters, but in themselves they do not justify military action,’ Bishop Pates said.” Well now, that’s what I would call a highly debatable claim, in view of Iran’s oft-stated goals of destroying the State of Israel! I also doubt whether the bishops have the same access to classified intelligence as the CIA, DIA, Mossad and Israeli Military Intelligence. At any rate, I doubt seriously that we’ll ever do anything. The bishops should send their letter to Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu and his cabinet.

Posted Thursday, March 08, 2012 8:22 AM By Bob
Iran could care less about the Catholic bishops and what they think, just like the Obama Administration. The bishops are making grandiose statements about many things lately, but they cannot seem to be able to administer their own dioceses (e.g., SF) let alone the errant Catholic politicians to be found everywhere. What about a specific warning to legislators that they have a duty to uphold Catholic doctrine and values or else, for starters?

Posted Thursday, March 08, 2012 8:38 AM By John G.
Thank goodness that higher ups in the Catholic Church are speaking up against this mad run-up to war. Let Israel defend herself. She has 300 nukes and a powerful military. Iran has attacked no one for hundreds of years, unlike the U.S. or Israel. Bishop Pates, please repeatedly and pointedly ask why Israel chooses not to be part of the Non Proliferation pact.

Posted Thursday, March 08, 2012 8:59 AM By Laura
Fr. Richard Perozich at 5:45 a.m. said all that needs to be said, and he said it in one sentence. Everyone else has amplified nicely and in detail on why Father’s beliefs are correct. The problem is: Who would listen to us?

Posted Thursday, March 08, 2012 11:25 AM By Larry
“Iran has attacked no one for hundreds of years…” Your timing is a little off, John G. The Iranian Foreign Legion, a.k.a. Hezbollah has attacked Israel plenty of times within the past few years. It’s support for terrorist forces throughout the Middle East certainly constitutes a form of “attack.”

Posted Thursday, March 08, 2012 12:59 PM By Peggy
I think the bishops have a lot of work to do in catechizing the flock. We need to hear about morals pertaining to family, marriage, life — stop commenting on the economy, global warming (which is a hoax), nuclear missiles, health care as a “right”, etc. Follow your expertise (Catholicism) and leave politics to the politicians — who we should responsible elect according to our moral teaching.

Posted Thursday, March 08, 2012 4:48 PM By Janek
Yes, lets wait until The Islamic Republic of Iran destroys the state of Israel like it says day in and day out. The bishops need to worry about saving the Roman Catholic Church from itself!!! Empty churches, convents, hospitals, seminaries come on guys wake up!!!!!!!

Posted Thursday, March 08, 2012 5:13 PM By Tom Amadeo
Ahmadinejad repeatedly has referred to the USA and Israel as the “big Satan and the little Satan.” He has expressed his determination to destroy the state of Israel. His mantra is “death to America,death to Israel.” Not to take him seriously is folly. But without US support militarily,Israel cannot take Iran on alone–they would have to fight on three fronts–Iran,Syria and Egypt ! Clearly,Israel knows this and Obama has restrained Israel FOR THE TIME BEING. The American government of today enters combat primarily for political reasons. This is why Obama will hold back support for Israel until it is for his political ambitions to act militarily. Attacking Iran shortly before the fall elections will assure Obama’s re-election,because the American people will rally around any President in wartime, and Obama knows this. So expect the bombs to drop in late summer or early fall of this year—before the November election because it is “the wise political thing to do.” That said, I oppose striking Iran at this time,but for a reason that might seem strange to some of you. I oppose the use of our ground troops(and we would have to use ground troops in order to destroy underground nuclear facilities) because in our present military the injury of a “civilian” by one of our troops may be punishable as murder. I do not want my grandchildren subjected to this threat.Training late teenagers to kill and then expect them to make politically correct decisions in battle is ridiculous to me. Just remember–by the end of this fall–for some reason–imaginary or contrived,this country will attack Iran,for some reason that is primarily political.Bet on it!

Posted Thursday, March 08, 2012 10:09 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Anyone from the “the Committee on International Justice and Peace” must be looked on with a very cautious eye! God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 9:17 AM By Anne T.
Fr. Richard Perozich is right. Cannot the rest of you see that much of the Muslim world would like to have a caliphate? If we take care of our own and get off of Middle Eastern oil and also find other resources, it will take money from them. Then leave them to themselves to fight over who wil be the next Caliph. That should take care of the issue. Sorry, folks! but Ron Paul IS right about some things. We are always being dragged into someone else’s fight. I do not have his “compassion” though for the Arab despots though, and that is what most of them are with all their wives. Every time we go over there to “help” some of them come over here “to not help”.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 10:15 AM By Catherine
Socal is right! Also, there once was a time when the world might have respected more or valued the words of our Catholic bishops. Do our bishops still think that the world is looking to them for opinions and guidance when they have not reduced the amount of havoc wreaked by error and scandal within each of their own individual dioceses? True wisdom will come when true charity begins at home. Respect begins in their own backyard. Our bishops cannot tell others what they should or should not do and then remain completely silent when those who damage and threaten the peace within their own tiny boundaries are causing widespread public spiritually nuclear scandal by promoting intrinsic evils. When our bishops start to courageously remove the logs from their own eyes, then they will once again be respected and valued by the world. As the Church goes, the world goes.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 10:25 AM By Dana
I totally agree AnneT. But if he who occupies the White House apologizes and grovels enough we’ll have lost enough credibility,prestige and authority that we’ll have to go to war anyway, because when leaders aren’t respected or taken seriously in their posturing, what possible alternative is there? That’s a genuine question, by the way.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 11:45 AM By Skybright
Iran signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in 2003. Iran has a permanently stationed Inspection team. All this war mongrering takes the focus off of the communist and fascist revolution going on in our government. We are witnessing treason in high places. Pray, repent and help do reparation for our sins.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 12:59 PM By Larry
Skybright: Iran signed the treaty–so that disposes of the matter? If they are violating a treaty, that gives all the more legal authority for action against them–including violent action.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 1:31 PM By Dana
What I don’t understand is why there has never been talk about impeachment, Skybright, when there are so many scandalous and impeachable offenses that one’s mind truly boggles. We must truly fast and pray as you say, Skybright (I like your name) and pray some more.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 2:39 PM By DOTTIE
The Church in the US really needs to stay out of politics which is not their area of expertise, and can have bad effects that they have not even considered. When Bishops publically take positions in areas that can have legitimate differences of Catholic opinion, they only harm the Catholic faith. They should stick to the full truth of the Catholic Faith ONLY so they don’t confuse people. The devil loves confusion, and he loves to divide and conquer. Bishops and Priests must limit themselves politically. The USCCB needs to weed out some of their Committees, since they are not bankers and scientists. They even supported fake global warming on the USCCB web site, and had to eat crow now stating they don’t know. They didn’t “know” to begin with. See ”’CCC 2246″. The goal must be to Save Souls for eternity.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 6:38 PM By Ski Ven
Skybright is a good name to use in a thread about an impending nuclear war.

Posted Saturday, March 10, 2012 4:20 AM By RR
Tom Amadeo: Excellent post! I agree. Obama has his agenda. How can people not see what he is up to? All I can say is “look out” if he gets reelected again. We will be doomed.