BALTIMORE - Increasingly frustrated by the war in Iraq and worried about bellicose talk toward Iran, the outgoing president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops described the situation in Iraq yesterday as "unacceptable and unsustainable" and called for the Bush administration to work with Iran and Syria to stabilize the region.
Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, in one of his last acts as president of the bishops conference, issued a public letter saying the bishops are "alarmed by the political and partisan stalemate in Washington" and declaring "our country needs a new direction."
The bishops conference and the Vatican raised concerns about the Iraq war before it began and have issued repeated statements calling for a "responsible transition" to Iraqi self-governance and the withdrawal of US troops "at the earliest opportunity consistent with that goal."
I like the descriptive words used by the bishops: unacceptable and unsustainable. Of course, many of them prior to the preemptive invasion by the Bush/Cheney junta called it illegal and immoral.
Many Catholics did not listen to those words, apparently, when they entered the voting booth here in Ohio in November 2004. That bloc of voters helped re-elect George Bush and sustain the war for another three years. Listening to the bishops now is of little value; the damage has been done and we will remain in Iraq as long as Bush remains president.
Catholic voters can, however, 'serve' a penance for their careless sin of '04 by carefully reviewing the geo-political stance of the candidates for the '08 election. The War-hawks of the GOP, seemingly all but Ron Paul, not only want to sustain the Bush War but are itching to drop the bomb on Iran when they get into office.
For the Catholic voter, the question of sanctity of life becomes a stark reality that they must face. The pro-life movement, with its narrow focus on abortion, has already endorsed Fred Thompson for president. Will the Catholic voter choose him and his pro-war stance?
Quite the dilemma for the Catholic voter.