Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 3, 1999
CWL demands end to bombing
Archdiocesan convention says it can't support Kosovo killing
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
The Catholic Women's League of the Edmonton Archdiocese is demanding Canada cease its participation in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.
The CWL, with a membership of 4,500, is also urging Prime Minister Jean Chretien and the federal government to actively pursue a United Nations' negotiated settlement in Yugoslavia.
Delegates to the CWL's 77th annual convention here April 24 expressed outrage at the indiscriminate bombing, voting overwhelmingly to condemn NATO's action and to press for a more constructive role for Canada.
"As members of the Catholic Women's League we can't support the killing of human beings, let alone select those who are going to get killed," said Jan Dunnigan, the CWL's resolutions and legislation convener.
"The refugee situation that today exists is happening mainly because of the bombing. We have created this situation."
One unidentified delegate took exception to Dunnigan's remarks, saying she felt "the exodus (of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo) started long before the bombing and was caused by the forces of (Slobodan) Milosevic (the Yugoslavian president)."
Dunnigan and CWL delegate Muriel Lavin sponsored two separate motions on Yugoslavia passed at the convention.
"We do not condone Milosevic but certainly we can't condone the bombing," Lavin said.
She feels Canada, as chair of the UN Security Council, should take a more active role in pursuing a negotiated settlement to the conflict.
Angela Blais, a delegate from Edmonton's St. Thomas More Parish, stood up to support the motions because the Ten Commandments tell us "You shall not kill." She noted the pope is also calling for an end to the bombing.
In an interview, Dunnigan said she was pleased the motions were passed. "As Catholic women we have to make a statement," she said. "It's not sufficient to stay silent."
She said biased and unbalanced Western media reports on the Kosovo crisis have led people to accept NATO's version of the conflict. She is skeptical and takes the reports with a grain of salt. "We see what they want us to see."
"NATO," she told delegates, "is acting outside the law" because the organization was created to defend member nations from outside attack and not to intervene in internal conflicts in sovereign nations.
Lucille Brietzke of Three Hills supported the motions "because I don't want the people to be bombed. It just causes more and more devastation."
Said Brietzke: "Ethnic cleansing is terrible but I don't we should follow Clinton to stamp out civil unrest wherever he wants to. I think the UN should go there, not NATO."
CWL president Mary-Lou Veeken supported the motions because "any kind of violent action, especially war, is against our faith."
Veeken believes NATO made the decision to attack Yugoslavia much too quickly "basically because they are following whatever the United States tells NATO to do rather than looking for consensus among the countries that are involved."
Canada, in its haste to follow in the footsteps of the U.S., lost a unique opportunity to provide leadership to the world and to make peace rather than war, she lamented. "What the resolutions are trying to say is 'We do have a voice as Canadians and we shouldn't be afraid to make our voice heard.'"
Barbara Meyers, a delegate from Our Lady of Foothills Parish in Hinton, supported the motions despite concerns about the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. "I feel NATO does not have the mandate (to attack Yugoslavia)," she said.
"There are things going on there that have nothing to do with the bombing, like the killings of ethnic Albanians, but I don't think NATO should be there killing human beings. The bombing is hurting innocent people."
Individual CWL members from across the archdiocese have also been urged to write to the UN Security Council asking it "to press for a negotiated settlement in Yugoslavia with the greatest of haste."