The Chairman of the Bishops' Department of International Affairs issued the following statement this afternoon, on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales. It seems efforts to find a peaceful diplomatic solution to the Iraq crisis have not succeeded and military action is now imminent. The arguments surrounding the use of force have been discussed exhaustively and profound disagreements remain among people of good will as to the right course of action. Yet it is important at this time of great fear and tension to look at what brings us together in our common humanity and our shared faith. Whatever our beliefs about the crisis, praying together is our first duty. This is an expression of our faith, and is a true act of service. We pray all those caught up in the horror of war, above all the innocent civilians of Iraq, will be touched by God's mercy. We pray for our leaders that they will recognise that reconciliation and justice are the only grounds for true and lasting peace. We must show our solidarity with those most affected by the consequences of military action, whether they be members of the armed forces and their families, or those groups in this country who might be the victims of prejudice. Finally, in the midst of preparation for war we remember our true vocation is to be builders of peace: in other words that tranquillity of order - based on truth, justice, freedom and love - to which the Gospel calls us. The International Affairs Department works on behalf of all the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales. Its chairman is Bishop David Konstant, Bishop of Leeds.
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