WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is asking Roman Catholics to pray for peace on New Year's Day in response to Sept. 11.
The Vatican traditionally designates Jan. 1 as the World Day of Peace. The U.S. bishops at their November meeting issued a special request for prayer on that day, in light of the war on terrorism.
The bishops approved a document acknowledging the United States' moral right to a military defense against terrorism. But church leaders also said the response must be part of a broader foreign policy that battles poverty, human rights abuses and violence.
On Dec. 19, 68 Catholic leaders of missionary, political, peace and other organizations, issued a statement making the opposite argument -- that the U.S. war on terrorism was not morally justifiable according to church teachings.
The group said too many innocent civilians had been harmed in the air strikes on Afghanistan and the U.S. government had failed to explore all diplomatic options.
The group also called on the United States to set up a commission to study the roots of injustice that terrorists exploit to justify their acts.
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