A Call to Catholics: Let Us End Our Complicity in War 

Once again, information has surfaced regarding United States governmental efforts to mislead and misinform people about disgraceful, cruel destruction caused by a United States war of choice against people who meant the U.S. no harm. In the Afghanistan Papers, the United States government officials acknowledged, privately, their own uncertainty about why they were going to war against Afghanistan in 2001. The trove of newly released documents about the 18-year war unmasked years of high-level deceit and deliberate efforts to obfuscate realities on the ground in Afghanistan.

The United States War on Terrorism began in 2001. A decade earlier, the U.S. invaded and bombed Iraq, following the aerial attacks with an economic war which cost the lives, through sanctions, of hundreds of thousands of children. In 2002, the U.S. invaded Iraq under false pretenses, sparking a vicious civil war, destroying the country’s infrastructure, harrowing the ground for Al-Qaeda in Iraq and the rise of ISIS, and turning the country into a bloodbath which continues to this day.

United States wars have literally set the Middle East on fire. Several million people in the Middle East and North Africa have been killed, and tens of millions maimed, traumatized, and made into refugees.

Over the last 19 years United States forces have detained tens of thousands of people in dozens of countries. Prisoners  have suffered ghastly torture, and some will remain at Guantanamo Bay without trial until they die.

The U.S. has killed untold numbers of civilians by unmanned aerial drones, bombing raids, cruise missile attacks, and special operations missions in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia—also in Syria and Yemen. The U.S.  toppled the Libyan government leading to years of violent chaos. In all of these places, United States war-making has helped cause humanitarian catastrophes.

Rather than follow the lead of the Vatican and other states that have signed and ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,  the U.S. now exacerbates a new nuclear arms race by upgrading every warhead and delivery system, along with every production and command and control site in the nuclear weapons complex.

This tragic pattern of killing and destroying begs the question of our responsibility as Catholic followers of Christ. The endless War on Terrorism has fallen short of the Church’s Just War requirements on multiple fronts. Likewise, United States nuclear weapons policy, which targets the world’s children, falls short of Just War requirements . I call on Catholics in the military, including chaplains, as well as all who work for the military or any branch of the armaments industry to heed Pope Francis’s call to set aside the futility of war. All Catholics should refuse to kill and should refuse cooperation with United States wars. Catholic taxpayers should make every effort to avoid paying for war and weapons. Rather, embrace Jesus, who calls us to love our enemies, put up the sword, and take up the cross.


9 thoughts on “Ambassador and Teacher of Peace, Bishop Gumbleton Calls on Catholics to End Complicity in War

    1. If we understand prayer to mean inner contact with the Living Presence, and we understand as well that this contact is the means by which we draw His right-understanding and right-action into and through us, then we do well to heed our Teacher’s instructions: that we each make a far greater investment of our time and focus in authentic prayer; that we choose to see all acts of aggression as does Jesus, and that we choose to respond as He does. When we stand not in a state of judgment toward another, we then stand naked before ourselves and God. Only then does the ocean of sorrow in our hearts melt from it’s frozen state and flow through us. Only then is our portal cleansed — when are we are willing to see in truth the aggression that we ourselves harbor
      and feel the depth of awful anguish that brings, and we realize the plight of each soul is the same. When we cry for the oppressor’s soul as we cry for the victim’s, then are we seeing through His eyes. Then does His Love enter our hearts. Then does His Wisdom live through us. Until that time,
      let us enter and abide in the silence of our hearts.
      Let our hearts break open that love may live here.

  1. I welcome this statement from Bishop Gumbleton. My hope is that the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference will endorse this statement and call on the Australian Government to withdraw from the USA-Australian military alliance.

  2. The horrific failures accumulate – doing the same thing over and expecting a different result is insanity

  3. Somehow missing from this piece is the perverse relationship between Israel and the US. The Palestinians are being slaughtered daily by the Israelis with the backing of the US. Let’s make this article more digestible for all.

  4. In an effort to call for a HALT to business-as-usual re: Climate Crisis, Palestine, Wars, Living Wage Increase, Criminal Justice Reform, Gun Reform Legislation, Term Limits, etc… PLEASE consider editing this and sharing with progressive leaders in your circle:
    With all the protests going on
    i’m reminded that back in early 2000s THE WORLD protested the Iraq war –
    to no avail.
    Are you familiar with THE PBS SERIES: A FORCE MORE POWERFUL – six successful nonviolent movements from Poland and Chile to South Africa and USA civil rights, as well as India and Denmark. See https://www.nonviolent-conflict.org/force-powerful-english/

    They all involved economic boycotts, slowdowns, and strikes.
    Isn’t it time for this action again?
    You are much more connected and wise than I. As a leader with MANY CONNECTIONS, please consider talking with your Staff and your colleagues in the many organizations around the country and world.

    ONE EXAMPLE from an article that prompted this writing: n.b. Truckers could not only tie up traffic but stop the delivery of goods and shut down stores in less than a week. We’d have to support them with money, of course, and security.
    “Grocery stores would run out of food in just 3 days if long-haul truckers stopped working”
    May peace be based on justice forged thru creative nonviolence.

  5. Bishop Gumbleton’s faithful and courageous Call , reminds me of Bishop Romero’s appeal “Soldiers You must obey God’s law,THOU SHALT NOT KILL.No soldier is obliged to obey a law contrary to the law of God.But as Bishop Gumbleton points out, all of us who pay taxes are killing with our money.We must join soldiers in refusing to kill. Help us God to heed the Call.

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