raid on Libya
by Cristina Odone
CATHOLiC Church leaders and organisations throughout the country protested last week against the United States raid on Libya.
Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood wrote to Mrs Thatcher on the same day of the attack, April 15, to express his "deep shock and sense of real horror" at the attack.
"Hearing that this action had the support of the British Government", wrote Bishop McMahon, "has increased our sense of amazement and deep anxiety. As you know, the news is that a great number of innocent people have been killed and wounded, including women and children, through the bombing of civilian targets".
The bishop stated that he found it "difficult" to understand "how such an incredibly devastating action could be justified", and urged the Prime Minister to work for a "reconciliation" between the United States and Libya.
Cardinal Basil Hume, in a strongly-worded article in Sunday's Observer, wrote that he shared "the profound disquiet and moral outrage of many" upon hearing of the United States action and of its support by Britain's Government. Britain's complicity in the raid, warned the cardinal, had resulted in its "walking with an uneasy conscience in American footsteps".
International law, in the light of the recent evidence of "stateorganised terrorism", had failed to uphold standards and led to the creation of "a moral and legal vacuum", according to the cardinal. But he warned against the "obvious temptation to seek immediate deterrence through the use of military force", for,
to do so, would be to "step outside the community of those who do accept the rule of law".
Although the cardinal clearly denounced any military retaliation against terrorist acts, he also condemned "inactivity in the face of terrorism". Rather, he proposed the "application of every conceivable pressure short of deliberate, non-defensive taking of life". This pressure can only be achieved through the concerted efforts by states to "act together decisively and firmly", and by the development of International Law.
The cardinal stated that he had "called for prayer in parishes of my diocese for the victims of violence".
Speaking before television cameras in front of the American Embassy, where he had joined 10,000 people in a sitin to protest against the raid, Mgr Bruce Kent, vice-chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, condemned the bombings in Libya as "provocative". He said that he and fellow protesters were demonstrating the "overwhelming public disgust at the raid and at Britain's complicity in it".
Joining the Catholic Church leaders in their protest against the April 15 air strike, two Catholic Conservative MPs, Sir Hugh Rossi and Denis Walters, abstained from voting in the House of Commons on the Government's decision to sanction the American raid.
• The bombing of the Libyan capital resulted in the damage of a Franciscan convent in Tripoli, and in a delay in the release of Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, head of the Vicariate of Tripoli_ The bishop was freed last week,