Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
October 1, 2001
Church leaders urge restraint
Resist the pressures to 'restrict the civil liberties of citizens,' they tell Chretien
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA — Canadian Church leaders have called for restraint in reaction to terrorist attacks on the United States.
In a letter to Prime Minister Jean Chretien Sept. 21, the Canadian Council of Churches urged the United States to seek a "more measured and, in the end, more effective action," rather then yielding to "vengeful retaliation."
In a separate statement, Canadian Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte of Montreal also urged the United States to exercise restraint, saying that "the spiral of vengeance can only add more and more violence."
The council of churches, whose members include the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, offered guidelines for avoiding war, including measures that ensure accountability and due process.
"The perpetrators of these heinous crimes must be brought to justice," the letter said. "This imperative is unambiguous, and it is not rooted in revenge but in the principle of accountability."
The statement said the pursuit of justice against perpetrators of terrorism should include all those who commit crimes against humanity, "regardless of where the victims are."
The council also said that those arrested in connection with the Sept. 11 hijackings should be brought before an international court, rather than a U.S. court.
The council urged the Canadian government to not restrict the civil liberties of citizens while combatting terrorism.
"We urge you to resist the growing pressures to permit increased invasion of privacy, reduced access to information, reduced immigration, reduced access to safe havens for refugees, increased military spending at the expense of social programs, and any number of other measures that would erode fundamental rights and freedoms, all in the name of combatting terrorism," the letter said.
Speaking to Montreal's Le Devoir newspaper, Turcotte said that while it was "not a popular idea at the moment . . . we must bring the notion of pardon back into the picture."
While he was unreserved in his condemnation of the terrorist attacks, Turcotte said he hoped that at the same time these crimes would launch a reflection and debate on the sources of tension and resentment in the world.
"We must take into account the deep inequalities between the rich and poor countries and the presence of millions of refugees living in wretched conditions of misery that push them toward extremist positions. I think we have to attack evil at its roots," he said.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.