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These armaments strike cruelly and indiscriminately at civilian populations, with lasing effects beyond the period of conflict. I should once again like to make a vigorous appeal for the definitive cessation of the manufacture and use of those arms called "antipersonnel landmines."
-- Pope John Paul II
After wars stop, the killing and maiming don't. More than 100 million hidden killers called landmines are strewn about the earth. Twenty-six thousand people are killed or maimed each year by antipersonnel landmines. This is wrong. This has to stop. This is an issue of life and death with stark moral and human dimensions. Landmines do not distinguish between civilians and combatants, between times of peace and times of war. From Angola to Bosnia to Cambodia, landmines destroy lives, divide communities, and leave land uninhabitable. As indiscriminate weapons, they violate the ethical principles governing warfare. The banning of antipersonnel landmines is an urgent moral priority.
This is why the U.S. Catholic bishops and many other national Catholic organizations have launched a Catholic Campaign to Ban Landmines. American Catholics are joining Pope John Paul II, leaders of the Church around the world, as well as veterans and peace and human rights groups to condemn the use of antipersonnel landmines and work for a global ban.
The Catholic Campaign includes the Bishops' Conference, the Military Archdiocese, Catholic Relief Services, missionary societies, religious communities, refugee groups, and many other Catholic organizations. In our missions and relief projects, we've seen the human toll, the lands and villages abandoned, the human terror and destruction caused by landmines. Our military chaplains have seen soldiers killed and maimed. The Catholic community is coming together to urge effective, strong U.S. leadership to ban the use, production, stockpiling, and sale of these indiscriminate killers.
Rapid progress towards a global ban on antipersonnel landmines depends upon strong, unambiguous, and convincing U.S. leadership now.
-- Bishop Anthony Pilla, President, United States Catholic Conference
Your help is needed for our nation to take stronger steps to be a leader in the global effort to ban landmines. The United States must be an active and constructive participant in international negotiations with out delay or exceptions. The United States should also lead by example by renouncing U.S. use of antipersonnel landmines and destroying our existing stockpile of 14 million antipersonnel landmines. The President and Congress must act now! We cannot be satisfied by half-measures, vague promises, or long delays.
These weapons not only harm innocent civilians, they threaten our own soldiers, as Bosnia, Vietnam and Korea have taught us. The world has agreed that biological and chemical weapons may not be used. It is time to add antipersonnel landmines to the outlawed means of combat, recognizing that any conceivable military use is outweighed by the moral consequences.
Military necessity and the need to protect one's troops...are not the only or even the overriding considerations in judging the morality of the continued use of antipersonnel landmines...A renunciation of U.S. use of landmines...could contribute to efforts to achieve an international ban on these weapons.
-- Most Rev. Joseph T. Dimino, Archbishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services
The human costs of landmines are staggering. Every 22 minutes a man, woman or child is killed or maimed by a landmine. Children lose their limbs. Parents lose their children. Refugees lose their homes or farms. Soldiers lose their lives. All of us lose because human life is precious.
As believers and Catholics, we are called to be peacemakers and to defend life. Join the Catholic Campaign to Ban Landmines. Join the Holy Father and bishops around the world, missionaries and relief workers, military chaplains and generals, and Catholic Citizens from all walks of life in convincing U.S. leaders to bring about an early and effective global ban on antipersonnel landmines.
The Catholic Campaign to Ban Landmines calls Catholics to action to rid the world of these terrible weapons. What can you do?
PRAY: Pray daily for the victims and survivors of landmines and for decision makers to take steps to stop the production, sale and sue of landmines;
EDUCATE: Inform and educate your family, friends, coworkers, and parishioners about landmines and the campaign to ban them;
ACT: Write the President. Write, call, or visit your representatives in Congress urging strong, clear U.S.. leadership to ban landmines without delay. Work with and organize others to advocate.
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