The Catholic Archbishop for the U.S. Military Services, Timothy P. Broglio, issued a nuanced statement Monday on the situation in the Middle East, signalling support for the recent drone strike on Irani General Qasem Soleimani.
“Disturbing news continues to arrive from the Middle East,” Archbishop Broglio stated in his message to the Catholic faithful. “Having just returned from there, I know that those deployed recognize the danger and continue to fulfill the demands of their mission for the protection of the innocent and the pursuit of those who cause harm.”
While not explicitly approving of the strike, the archbishop underscored the fact that the military exists in part to eliminate threats to innocent persons, which could be read as support for that action.
On Monday, Pentagon leaders said intelligence showed that Soleimani was planning “imminent” combat operations against U.S. military forces in the region.
“Those of us who were involved in the decision-making of that, we would have been culpably negligent to the American people had we not made the decision we made,” said Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper added that the action was necessary to protect American lives.
“We had a responsibility to act when American lives are threatened and I think that’s a responsible thing to do,” Esper told reporters.
In his statement, Broglio went on to promise prayers for a just peace, another significant choice of words that distinguishes the objective from that of peace at any cost.
“Throughout the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and, especially, here at the Edwin Cardinal O’Brien Pastoral Center we continue to pray for a just peace. In a special way those whose loved ones are currently deployed hold a special place in these prayers,” he declared.
“Together let us invoke the Prince of Peace whose birth in Bethlehem we have just commemorated and beg protection and a safe return for all of those in harm’s way,” he said.
“We can welcome Pope Francis’ invitation at the Angelus yesterday,” the archbishop continued. “‘In many parts of the world there is news of a terrible sense of tension. War only brings death and destruction. I call upon all sides to keep burning the flame of dialogue and self-control and to renounce the shadow of enmity.’”
“Join me in praying that 2020 might be a year for peace,” he concluded.