Torture 'morally intolerable,' says ad signed by Catholic cardinal, other religious leaders
Jun 14, 2006
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick joined with 26 other faith leaders June 13 in calling for a clear U.S. policy against torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of detainees.
WASHINGTON (CNS, 6/13/2006) – The cardinal, the retired archbishop of Washington, was among the signers of an ad in The New York Times sponsored by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.
"Torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions, in their highest ideals, hold dear," the advertisement said. "Any policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are shocking and morally intolerable."
In a news release, Cardinal McCarrick said every human being has "a special dignity... that comes from the fact that we are brothers and sisters in God's one human family."
"It is because of this that we all feel that torture is a dehumanizing and terrible attack against human nature and the respect we owe for each other," he added.
The release said that although torture has "long been banned by U.S. treaty obligations," a statement issued by President George W. Bush at the signing of the McCain Amendment banning the use of torture "implies that the president is not bound by the amendment in his role as commander in chief."
It was referring to Bush's signing statement, released Dec. 30, 2005, when he signed the amendment, which was attached to the Department of Defense Authorization bill. Such a statement is an official document in which the president outlines his interpretation of a new law. Regarding McCain, the president said he would view its limitations on interrogation in the context of protecting national security.
"As such, continued inhumane methods of interrogation remain a real possibility," the news release added.
Specifically, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture asked Congress and Bush to prohibit: "exemptions from the human rights standards of international law" for any arm of the government; the transfer of suspects to countries that allow torture; the existence of secret U.S. prisons around the world; and any denial of Red Cross access to U.S. detainees.
National religious leaders signing the ad included the Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; the Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches; Sayyid M. Syeed, national director of the Islamic Society of North America; Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; and Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
Among the other signers were Nobel laureates Elie Wiesel and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter; Jesuit Father William J. Byron, a professor at Loyola College in Maryland; Mary Ellen O'Connell, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame; Rev. Joseph Lowery, a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Rabbi Jerome M. Epstein, executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism; and Maher Hathout of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
The National Religious Campaign Against Torture was launched in January at a conference in Princeton, N.J. It lists Pax Christi USA and Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns as participating members and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men as an endorsing member.