US Catholic bishops urge peaceful solutions in Lebanon

By staff writers
December 7, 2006

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) international policy committee has sent a message to the American government urging Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to increase efforts with the international community to establish peace, stability and political reform in Lebanon.

Calling the assassination of Lebanese cabinet minister Pierre Gemayel "another sign of the deepening crisis in Lebanon," Bishop Thomas G.Wenski of Orlando said in a letter to Secretary Rice that the assassination and recent war with northern Israel has weakened democracy and emboldened radicals in the country.

"The United States, in coordination with the United Nations Security Council, must work with even greater resolve to strengthen the current ceasefire and support the expanded UN peacekeeping force working with the Lebanese army to assert exclusive Lebanese government authority throughout southern Lebanon," Bishop Wenski wrote.

He continued: "A resolution of the crisis requires disarmament of militias, a permanent ceasefire, an eventual peace agreement with Israel, and reconstruction assistance for Lebanon. All nations in the region will need to play constructive roles in helping the Lebanese people resolve their own internal political crisis and refrain from actions that could further destabilize the situation."

Bishop Wenski noted that the US bishops' relief and development agency, Catholic Relief Services, is providing humanitarian and development assistance in Lebanon through Caritas Lebanon and local partners.

He explained: "Our conference of bishops has strong ties of solidarity with the people of Lebanon Lebanon is a country where Christians and Muslims share a common responsibility for governance and a common future."

Observers are concerned that further Israeli military intervention in the troubled country will only worsen an alreday politically fractured situation - strengthening those who wish to use violence rather than peaceful and democratic means.

The new US report on Iraq urges, among other things, a dialogical approach to Syria and Iran, other interested parties who have been accused of interfering in the Lebanon and elsewhere in the region.

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