Catholic Bishop Defeatniks

From Holden:

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops agrees with Frank John Murtha and is calling for the withdrawl of US forces from Iraq as soon as possible.

Declaring that the United States was at a crossroads in Iraq, the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops said Thursday the time had come to withdraw U.S. troops as fast as responsibly possible and to hand control of the country to Iraqis.

“Our nation’s military forces should remain in Iraq only as long as it takes for a responsible transition, leaving sooner than later,” said Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, Fla., speaking for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Wenski, chairman of the bishops Committee on International Policy, said recent statements by the Bush administration that troop levels would be reduced were not enough. He said the U.S. must send an unmistakable signal that the goal was not to occupy Iraq “for an indeterminate period,” but to help Iraqis assume full control of their government.

The eight-page statement, in the works for months and delivered to the White House and members of Congress on Thursday, was candid in its assessment of the war, which U.S. bishops and the late pope, John Paul II, had opposed from the start.

[snip]

The bishops said they remained “highly skeptical” of Bush’s doctrine of “preventive war.” But they also saw signs of hope, including the Iraqi elections.

“Our nation cannot afford a shrill and shallow debate that distorts reality and reduces the options to ‘cut and run’ versus ‘stay the course,’ ” Wenski wrote, speaking for the bishops conference.

[snip]

“We must reject an optimism that fails to acknowledge clearly past mistakes, failed intelligence, and inadequate planning related to Iraq, and minimizes the serious challenges and human costs that lie ahead,” it said.

John Carr, a senior staffer on the Catholic bishops committee, said the statement was intended to set the stage for what bishops hoped would be a vigorous but civil discussion on what the U.S. must do next.

“Candidly, there seems to be more talk on Sunday morning TV talk shows than there is in the Congress or within the Bush administration, at least in the public sense,” Carr said. “The great temptation is to try to justify past policies instead of acknowledging where we are and what we need to do.”

[snip]

On Thursday, Catholic bishops forcefully restated their abhorrence to torture and said the U.S. must live up to constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment, and abide by international accords outlawing torture.

Bishops were careful not to criticize U.S. troops. By raising “grave moral questions” about the decision to invade Iraq, bishops said they were not questioning “the moral integrity of those serving in the military.”

[snip]

They said that as the U.S. pursued the war on terrorism and the rebuilding of Iraq, it should not forget pressing concerns at home and abroad, particularly caring for the poor.