Catholic groups oppose CIA nominee Gina Haspel for connection to torture

from the National Catholic Reporter

Several Catholic groups have opposed President Trump’s nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency, saying Gina Haspel’s role in overseeing torture disqualifies her, according to “basic moral standards for human dignity.”

The move marks a rare instance of Catholic activists opposing a government nominee, rather than addressing specific policy questions.

“Confirming someone who actively supervised torture to be CIA Director would send a very unhealthy, unethical, and anti-rule of law message to the world,” said a May 7 letter sent to all U.S. senators ahead of Haspel’s confirmation hearings, which begin Wednesday.

“Our friends and allies would question our opposition to torture, and tyrants and dictators would once again point to us to justify their own use of torture,” the letter said.

The letter was signed by Pax Christi USA, a national Catholic peace organization, and groups representing religious men and women, including the Conference of Major Superiors of Men and Network, a Catholic social justice lobby.

Other signers included the Franciscan Action Network, Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, USC Province of the Society of the Sacred Heart and the Institute Justice Team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

“Catholic social teaching is clearly against the practice of torture because it violates human dignity, and it is certainly not in accord with Jesus’ way of reconciliation and love of enemies,” Eli McCarthy, director of justice and peace for the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, told NCR.

McCarthy cited Pope John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor, which condemned physical and mental torture as intrinsic evils.

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