The United States and its leaders must work together across party political divides to bring about a responsible transition in Iraq that ends the war at the earliest opportunity and minimizes the loss of lives, American and Iraqi.
This was the major thrust of a statement by Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, that was affirmed by the full body of bishops at their general meeting on Monday in Baltimore.
"As the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops gathers in Baltimore, our thoughts and prayers are with our military personnel in Iraq, their families, and all the suffering people of Iraq," Bishop Skylstad said.
The statement decried "the political stalemate in Iraq that blocks national reconciliation" and "finds a parallel" in "the political and partisan stalemate in Washington."
Bishop Skylstad continued, "Our country needs a new direction to reduce the war's deadly toll and to bring our people together to deal with the conflict's moral and human dimensions. Our nation needs a new bipartisan approach to Iraq policy based on honest and civil dialogue."
The statement noted that the US faces important challenges and decisions about the terrible dilemmas in Iraq.
"Our nation must focus more on the ethics of exit than on the ethics of intervention. The morally and politically demanding but carefully limited goal of responsible transition should aim to reduce further loss of life and address the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, the refugee crisis in the region, the need to help rebuild the country and human rights, especially religious freedom."