- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 10, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Liberal religious activists began another phase of an anti-war lobbying effort on Capitol Hill yesterday, urging Congress to explore peaceful alternatives in its dealings with Iraq.
"I'm appalled by it all," said Frances Kane, 64, of Washington. "I can't believe our country is seriously considering a pre-emptive strike without international support."
While Congress prepares to vote on a resolution giving the president broad authority to use military force to dismantle Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, roughly 100 nuns, lay people and other Catholics from across the country dropped off packets and held meetings with congressional staff, outlining their anti-war stance.
Others held silent vigils outside of Senate and House buildings.
"Violence isn't the answer to anything," said Sister Mary Ann Smith, of Ossining, N.Y., on her way to the office of Rep. Sue W. Kelly, New York Republican. "War is morally and ethically wrong."
Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer said 13 persons were arrested for blocking an entrance to the Senate side of the Capitol.
While yesterday's events were sponsored by various Catholic groups, including the lobbying group Network, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and Pax Christi, other events were planned for this week by the National Council of Churches made up of 36 denominations.
The groups oppose resolutions to authorize U.S. military forces against Iraq. Instead, they're urging the United States to cooperate with the U.N. Security Council in returning weapons inspectors to Iraq.
Global Exchange, Peace Action and the American Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia, held a protest near Senate buildings last night.
Chanting, "War on Iraq, we say no" about 200 protesters held banners with anti-war slogans and sounded bells, drums and whistles outside Senate office buildings.
"We don't need a war, we need the U.N. to take the lead, not the U.S.," said Phyllis Bennis of the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies. "We are not better than the rest of the world. We don't have the right to say we're above international law."
"I'm horrified our president would consider a pre-emptive strike as a way to peace," said Sister Anne Marie Gardiner, 59, of Silver Spring. "That's outrageous. It's a corruption of what the U.S. has tried to stand for."
The day's lobbying effort ended with about 50 people singing about peace around a single candle at a prayer vigil two blocks from the White House.


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