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Bishop of Lancaster on the eve of war with Iraq

 In these final hours, and before the darkness of war descends upon Iraq, I continue to hope and to pray for peace, and I urge you to do the same. Hope and prayer are key characteristics of being Christian. Up to now I was quietly confident that there would be a peaceful resolution to the Iraq conflict. For many a long day to come, people will question why it was that the United Nations was marginalised. "War is not a solution", as the Pope and so many others have said again and again. My thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Iraq, who have suffered so much over the past ten years and more. My thoughts and prayers go out, too, to our own military personnel involved in this war, and to their families and friends. Let us re-double our efforts to work for peace, and a swift end to conflict. War, sadly, always brings displaced people, casualties and human suffering, and many will lose their loved ones. My heart goes out to all of them, and I lovingly assure them of my prayer and support. Finally, I shall be praying very specially that our leaders be guided by a spirit of peace, and reconciliation with justice; and that the relationships between the different faith communities in our country will not suffer as a result of this conflict. Patrick O'Donoghue 18th March 2003