Keep the children and adults out of harm’s way


By Barb Arland-Fye

Children are the most common victims of cluster munitions, Human Rights Watch reports in an article posted July 14 after the Biden administration decided to provide cluster munitions to Ukraine in its war with Russia. The Human Rights Watch article told of children in Iraq harmed or killed by the “sub-munitions” (or bomblets) that cluster munitions disperse. These kids mistook the lethal bomblets for toys, which exploded on them.  Cluster munitions create the illusion of defense at the potential cost of innocent lives.

Cluster munitions “make no distinction between civilians, civilian property and military targets,” which is why they “violate the rules of international humanitarian law,” the United Nations states (  We already know the harm they cause in Ukraine because Russian forces have been using cluster munitions since the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. Six months later, the UN posted that “deployment of cluster munitions in Ukraine have killed 215 civilians and injured 474.” How many more have been killed or maimed by cluster munitions since then?

The U.S. bishops are calling on our government to sign the 2010 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans the use of cluster munitions. We, as individuals, and as communities of faith, should do the same. The convention recognizes the “indiscriminate nature” of cluster munitions” and the “risk to civilian populations long after fighting has ceased,” said Bishop David Malloy of the Rockford, Illinois, Diocese. The “United States and Russia have not signed the agreement. I, and my predecessors as chairmen of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, have long urged the U.S. government to sign on to both the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine Ban Treaty.”


Bishop Malloy cited a July 4, 2014 message by Pope Francis that exhorted all countries to commit to conventions on antipersonnel mines and cluster munitions. In that statement the Holy Father said, “What meaning do peace, security and stability have, if our societies, our communities and our families live in constant fear and destructive hatred? Let us make room for reconciliation, hope, love … expressed in commitment for the common good, in international cooperation to aid the weakest among our brothers and sisters … in service to a necessarily common future.”

Ukraine has a right to self-defense, as Bishop Malloy acknowledged, but he did not address what self-defense ought to entail. As he did state, “we must continue to pray for dialogue and peace, and I join with our Holy Father in supporting and sharing in his moral concern and aspiration.”

How do we respond, as faithful citizens viewing from afar a war that has passed 500 days and demonstrates no end in sight? A war that is destroying lives, property and exacerbating hunger in developing countries that depended on supplies of wheat, barley and sunflower oil produced by Ukraine and Russia?

“Wars generally do not resolve the problems for which they are fought and therefore, in addition to causing horrendous damage, they prove ultimately futile,” St. John Paul II said in his World Day of Peace message in 2000. “War is a defeat for humanity. Only in peace and through peace can respect for human dignity and its inalienable rights be guaranteed” (

We need to work at building “a new culture of solidarity,” in which “cooperation cannot be reduced to aid or assistance,” the Holy Father said. “Rather, it must express a concrete and tangible commitment to solidarity which makes the poor the agents of their own development and enables the greatest number of people … to exercise the creativity which is characteristic of the human person and on which the wealth of nations too is dependent.”

 We must continue to pray — individually and in our prayer petitions during Mass — for an end to war everywhere in the world. We must take action, as well. Contact President Biden, U.S. Sens. Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst and your U.S. House representatives ( to urge our country to sign the 2010 Convention on Cluster Munitions and other conventions regarding lethal weapons (including nuclear).

Our Church teaches that every life is to be valued and protected from harm. Cluster munitions are too dangerous, too risky, too indiscriminate and too long-lasting to keep our children — anywhere in the world — out of harm’s way.

Barb Arland-Fye, Editor

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