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The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council notes with great sadness and deep regret the decision to declare war on Iraq, and is dismayed that Australia is now engaged in a war that does not have the support of the United Nations and the international community.

Bishop William Morris, Chairman of the ACSJC said,” Around the world, religious leaders, and in particular Pope John Paul II, are saying a very definite ‘No’ to the legitimacy of this war.

“For the first time, Australia finds itself at war, without the blessing of the Churches, without parliamentary bipartisan support and without a clear mandate from the Australian people.”

Bishop Morris continued, “We would urge that all efforts be made to bring this conflict to a peaceful solution.  Peace is more than simply the absence of war.  It is a state of well-being that comes from respect for the dignity and rights of both individual people and whole communities.  Let us all work for peace by addressing injustice, excessive economic and social inequalities, envy, distrust and any issues in our society and our world that undermine human dignity and cause war.

“This is the Lenten Season, a time when Christians throughout the world mark the journey towards Easter with intensified prayer and fasting.  We heed the call of Pope John Paul II to dedicate this prayer and fasting ‘for the conversion of hearts and the long-range vision of just decisions to resolve disputes with adequate and peaceful means’.

“We pray for the Iraqi people, that one day they may know true justice and freedom.  We pray for the women and men of the Australian Defence Force who have been deployed to the region that they make come safely home.  We pray for political leaders during this time, that wisdom will prevail.”