Statement on Iraq by Bishop Pat O'Donoghue

 Following yesterday's UN vote on Iraq, the Bishop of Lancaster, Rt Rev Pat O'Donoghue has issued the following statement: The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to act as 'Brokers of Peace' in war-scarred Iraq. In welcoming mthis resolution I welcome above all the re-engagement of the United Nations in Iraq. If this resolution is to have any hope of success, it must mean what it says: the establishment of a stable and sovereign Iraq, and the 'time-framed' withdrawal of coalition forces so that the Iraqis will have the right to control their own destiny. Let us not underestimate the task ahead. The Iraqis are a beleaguered and bereaved people, having incurred enormous losses in this and in the first Gulf War. The tensions among the different communities in that country are real but for the Iraqi people themselves to resolve. They, too, will need to seek the way of peace and reconciliation. The lessons to be learned from this conflict are enormous. All too clearly we have seen the horrendous effects of modern weaponry, the ruthlessness of the suicide bomber, the awful degradation of prisoners. . . To counter all of this we can only point to the indomitable will of people everywhere, and not to be distracted from the way of peace. This surely is epitomised in an extraordinary way by the words and example of Pope John Paul II. In the place of war and destabilisation we must now put nation-building and reconciliation, offering a window of hope to all - the Iraqi eople themselves as well as those who have been involved with its occupation. The rebuilding of this land and its people, weary of war, will involve a huge investment in time, energy, diplomacy and money. I pray that the international community will stand by Iraq in its hour of need. Today, too, I call for a resolution of 'Prayer for Peace'. Hopefully, there will be a response from every Church, Mosque, Temple and Synagogue in the coming weeks and months. Let us all continue to work for peace and reconciliation, especially in Iraq, the Middle East and other trouble spots throughout the world.

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