Preaching during a special Evensong for magistrates, held at St Philips Anglican Cathedral in Birmingham, yesterday at 4pm the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham protested at what he called the "misuse of power" by coalition soldiers in Iraqi prisons. The Archbishop said: "Power entrusted to the hands of a fallible human being can easily lead to distorted judgements and exploitative behaviour. "Certainly we need look no further than today's newspapers to see the shocking misuse of power in the prisons of Iraq. Nothing can justify that behaviour, which so degrades human beings, made in the image and likeness of God. "Nor can the fact that photographs were taken of that degradation be excused. Something has gone wrong within those army units. The power over others that comes with military victory has been abused and it is right that such events be brought to light. "Now the proper steps are being followed: apology, investigation, prosecution and punishment. These steps are built on the strength of our Christian heritage. They never excuse what has happened. But the exercise of justice is a hallmark of a decent society. "But, I wonder, does the search for justice continue to be the real motivation for the relentless publication of these photographs? Might it not be also to do with the selling of newspapers and the seeking of political advantage? "I do not think it is right to continue the public degradation of those men through the repeated publication of the photographs for such motives. Politicians and newspaper editors bear a heavy responsibility. "Archbishop Nichols added: A just judge, a fair magistrate, is one who above all else exercises their power with care and impartiality. Such a person knows that vindictiveness has no part in justice. They know the difference between the imposition of a just sentence and the misuse of force. "They understand the need for discipline and rigour in the exercise of power. And they know that good order can never be imposed by violence, but only built up slowly by sound practice, evident justice, and the establishment of trust. "We pray for all those who are seeking to establish a society of lasting justice in the turmoil of Iraq."
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