The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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My bishops try again: Anyone listening?

“War is not healthy for children and other living things.” So wrote Roman Catholic Sister Corita nearly a half-decade ago at the height of the Vietnam War. Her posters still grace churches and community centers across the globe. For years one hung in my office.

Last Friday, meeting in the idyllic Smoky Mountain retreat setting of Lake Junaluska, N.C., the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church, 125 prelates from across the globe and representing more than 11 million United Methodists, published a resolution in resounding accord with Sister Corita’s proclamation.

Friday’s Methodist Bishops’ plea was not the first. It looks like they will continue to have opportunities to reiterate their concerns as the Iraq War claims more lives and promises no end.

The bishops called on leaders of all nations for the “immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq.” Simple. Direct. Unlikely.

Two years ago, the Council of Bishops urged President George W. Bush, who holds local church membership down the block at Highland Park United Methodist Church, to set a clear timetable for removing U.S. forces from the region. He dismissed their counsel.

The bishops’ action leaves little doubt where the sentiment of United Methodism’s top echelon stands on the current conflict. The bishops declared war “incompatible with the teaching of Jesus.” That’s a pretty hefty indictment of any policy, whether one is Methodist or not.

It is, of course, unlikely that even the united voices of Methodist episcopal leaders will carry sway with the top leaders of the administration in Washington. The prelates’ position may well ring true, nevertheless, with some who serve the president lower in the pecking order.

No longer, it seems, is the White House the monolith of the recent past. Decimated by departures and with new staff hastily recruited from ranks of party loyalists to keep basic functions operating, it is the scene today of internal debate and disagreement about Iraq war policy. And that discord has risen to sometimes audible levels. Such is the conclusion of those whose vocations it is to interpret White House news.

No déjà vu here. Recall the depths of denial that marked Johnson’s White House leading up to his 1968 withdrawal from the quest for a second term? I choked on my asparagus that evening! Today, there is no Eugene McCarthy piping before hoards of disillusioned and angry college and university students, no nascent “children’s crusade” in the wings. College and university campuses, our own included, remain eerily quiescent, the only semblance of stirring that of swizzle sticks at off-campus mixers. Few of these “stirrers” will die in combat.

In our own Methodist-related-affiliated-owned institution anticipating the early arrival of President Bush’s Library/Museum/Institute/Foundation complex, it’s nigh impossible, to find someone not totally cynical about the endless War on Terrorism and willing to offer public comment on the current conflict. Even here, the Bishops’ words fall on deaf or mufflered ears.

Meanwhile, the children continue to die in Iraq, sometimes by sectarian mortars and bombs, sometimes by “contractors'” gun bursts, sometimes by nameless IED’s, sometimes “collaterally” … in any case, leaving them just as dead. Whether in the opinions of Sister Corita or Methodist prelates, their deaths remain obscene.

About the writer:

William M. Finnin, Jr., Th. D. is the Chaplain and Minister to the university. He can be reached at [email protected].

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