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“Today, 57 years after an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, and with the first anniversary of the shocking terrorist attacks on Washington DC and New York City approaching, we are increasingly alarmed at the speculation regarding a military attack on Iraq.

We cannot fight terror with terror.  We must use every non-violent means at our disposal to resolve issues with Iraq.  More than ever, we must give peace a chance”, said Bishop William Morris, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council.

“The use of force, even where there is just cause, must respect moral principles.  The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council does not believe that an attack on Iraq at this time would conform to the conditions for a morally legitimate use of force”, he continued.

“For the use of force to be justifiable, a number of conditions need to be met simultaneously:

  1. It must be an act of self-defence against an unjust aggressor
  2. The action must be initiated by a legitimate authority
  3. It must be the last resort after all non-violent means have been exhausted
  4. There must be a reasonable chance of success
  5. The action must not cause greater evil than that which it sets out to address
  6. The action must discriminate between combatants and non-combatants

These conditions are a formulation of the ‘just war’ criteria.  We do not believe that these conditions have been met in relation to Iraq”, he said.

“We welcome Pax Christi International’s declaration on the legality and morality of a war against Iraq, and concur with the Open Letter of Canberra Church Leaders to the Prime Minister on possible military action in Iraq.  We encourage everyone to read and reflect on these documents, and to pray for peace”, he concluded.

To download the Pax Christi International Declaration on the Morality and Legality of a War Against Iraq, visit