From Iraq to 9/11: U.S. Bishops, Catholic leaders discuss modern ethical dilemmas in light of Church moral teaching

From Iraq to 9/11: U.S. Bishops, Catholic leaders discuss modern ethical dilemmas in light of Church moral teaching


Military use in Iraq, arms control, and new questions raised by global terrorism, were among the tough ethical issues wrestled with by U.S. Catholic leaders at a Georgetown University colloquium, held in Washington last week.

Although the discussions took place behind closed doors. the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has announced that it will release transcripts of many of the November 11th talks, in which modern ethical questions were raised against the backdrop of Catholic moral teaching.

The meetings were part of a colloquium convened by the Bishops’ Committee on International Policy, and sponsored by the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and Georgetown’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Mortara Center for International Studies, and Initiative on Religion, Politics and Peace.

Bishop John Ricard of the Diocese of Tallahassee-Pensacola, who just completed his term as chairman of the Bishops’ International Policy Committee this week, said that the meeting “was an opportunity to convene experts representing many different perspectives to examine and apply the Church’s teaching on war and peace to pressing foreign policy issues.”

“The purpose”, he said, “was not to rehearse past debates, but rather to reflect on future moral challenges in light of what we have learned from recent experience.”
In an effort to foster intimacy and discussion, the gathering was limited to an invited group of bishops and their staff, U.S. policy and military experts, and leaders of Catholic academic organizations.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, as well as Bishop Thomas Wenski, incoming chairman of the bishops' International Policy Committee and Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, were on hand for the event along with a number of other bishops.

Gerard Powers, from Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute, which co-sponsored the event, said that “the colloquium…provided bishops and lay experts from a range of backgrounds and perspectives a special opportunity to engage in a forward-looking dialogue about difficult issues of morality and policy.”

Transcripts of many of the talks will be made available by the USCCB at:

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