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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 18, 2003
2:17 PM
CONTACT:  Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Stacie B. Royster, 301-587-0423, Fax: 301-587-0533, Email: info@sistersofmercy.org

Sisters of Mercy Publicly Oppose War
 
SILVER SPRING, MD - March 18 - The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, one of the world's largest English-speaking Roman Catholic congregations of women religious, have publicly denounced President Bush's war on Iraq. They have issued a corporate statement, the result of a month-long process of reflection, discussion, and a poll of their members.

The congregation published their statement today in Silver Spring MD, and noted that the statement "...is not intended to express a negative opinion of efforts to assure the security and defense of this nation, nor is it intended as a criticism of the military, or those who serve in it. It is a historic moment of unanimity calling the international community, and the US as part of that international community, to use non-violent means to contain and decrease any potential harm Iraq may pose."

The sisters spent a month weighing the pros and cons; deliberating about the consequences of war-making and non-violent peace-making; reflecting on their community's rule compelling each sister to "commit themselves to follow Jesus in his compassion for suffering people." This process led community members to determine that their call to reverence the dignity of each person and pursue integrity of word and deed in their lives could only be lived out in this present global context by corporately and publicly opposing the USA's determination to go to war with Iraq.

Over 90 percent of those responding resolutely state, "It is our firm belief that war is not the answer to difficulties in our world and particularly of the Middle East."

The sisters urge President Bush, his advisors and members of Congress to cooperate with and respect the United Nations' processes, and to reflect on the probable repercussion within the Islamic world of a US-initiated attack based on fear and suspicion against an Islamic nation. They also urge the President, Congress and presidential advisors to listen to the voices of the hundreds of thousands of United States citizens begging for a halt to this attack on Iraq.

The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas is an international community of sisters vowed to serve people who suffer from poverty, sickness and ignorance, with a special concern for women and children. In innovative and traditional ways, Sisters of Mercy address human needs through collaborative efforts in education, health care, housing, and pastoral and social services. The Institute includes 25 regional communities with 5024 members and 2371 associates who serve in North, South and Central America, the Caribbean, Guam and the Philippines. The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas sponsor or co-sponsor seven major national healthcare systems, 20 colleges and universities, 20 elementary and preschools, 39 secondary schools, and hundreds of affordable housing developments. They also serve in programs ranging from hospices for persons with HIV/AIDS, to adult literacy centers, and resettlement programs for refugees.

Public Statement Opposing War Against Iraq

We, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, oppose the use of military force against the people of Iraq. It is our firm belief that war is not the answer to the difficulties of our world and particularly of the Middle-East. We believe that such action would be immoral and unwise. While we acknowledge that the present government of Iraq may pose a potential threat to its neighbors, we call on the international community and the United States as part of that community to use non-violent means to contain and decrease that potential for harm. As part of this effort we urge President Bush, his advisors and the members of Congress to:

Cooperate with the United Nations in its effort to investigate the charge that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction and to await the outcome of that investigation, respecting the integrity and skill of the weapons-inspection team;

Reflect on the probable repercussions on the Islamic world of the United States' initiating an attack based on fear and suspicion against an Islamic nation;

Listen to the voices of hundreds of thousands of United States citizens and persons around the world who are begging for a halt to what they see as a frightening insistence on the necessity of an attack on Iraq.

Note to Editors and Producers: In addition please visit the website for the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, http://www.sistersofmercy.org/justice/issues/peacemaking.html for peacemaking resources.

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