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The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council has released a Discussion Guide titled “The Church speaks on war and peace”.

Bishop William Morris, Chairman of the ACSJC said, “There has been much public debate on the issue of war and whether Australia should be involved in any military intervention into Iraq.  As the crisis in the Middle East grows, so has the intensity of the debate.

“In the face of current world events, people hold different opinions and views on circumstances surrounding the crisis in Iraq.  We must respect the right of others to form their own conscientious views on this matter.  As Christians and as Catholics, however, it is important that our views are informed by Church teachings and the voice of Church leaders.

“Pope John Paul II and Church leaders around the world have spoken clearly of the need for peace.  They have urged political leaders to pursue the diplomatic solution.  They have emphasized the strict moral conditions that ensure military action would only be considered as the last resort.  The overwhelming call has been for diplomacy and peace.  The means for avoiding war are far from exhausted.

“This Discussion Guide is provided as a basic resource for local church communities, justice groups and individuals who are seeking information about the Church’s teachings on war and peace.  It provides excerpts from a wide range of statements by the Holy Father and other Church leaders on the circumstances facing the people of Iraq.

“This week the Holy Father has invited all members of the Catholic faith to dedicate with special intensity Ash Wednesday (5 March 2003) to prayer and fasting for the cause of peace.  It is hoped that this Discussion Guide will provide some assistance to the Church community and all people of good will in their prayer for peace” Bishop Morris concluded.

The Discussion Guide is available at: