Massive support for Christian Declaration against war on Iraq

 Since its public launch in mid-July, the Christian Declaration questioning the morality and legality of war against Iraq has gained widespread support. The initial 100 signatories included Archbishop Rowan Williams, Anglican Bishops John Perry and Peter Price, Roman Catholic Bishops Malcolm McMahon, Thomas McMahon and Edwin Regan and academics and theologians from around the country. A further 2500 signatures* have been received from church-based groups, academics and individuals. Pax Christi, who organised the Declaration, report that they have received much encouragement for the initiative. Many people said that had been looking for an alternative voice to that being offered by our political leaders and hope that the Declaration will generate serious reflection among decision makers. The Declaration appears to have captured the energy of convents, parishes, religious communities and families. It states: " It is deplorable that the world's most powerful nations continue to regard war and the threat of war as an acceptable instrument of foreign policy, in violation of the ethos of both the United Nations and Christian moral teaching. The way to peace does not lie through war but through the transformation of structures of injustice and of the politics of exclusion, and that is the cause to which the West should be devoting its technological, diplomatic and economic resources". The Declaration will be presented at Downing Street at 1.00 pm next Tuesday, 6 August. This is also the anniversary of the first use of nuclear weapons at Hiroshima in 1945. The organisers believe there is a strong link between the two. Forty-three years on the British Government still holds and threatens to use its nuclear weapons. Dr Tina Beattie, a member of the delegation presenting the Declaration said " When our elected leaders are considering fighting a war in our name, funded by our taxes, there is no morally neutral position. Christians have a responsibility to affirm certain fundamental principles of justice, and for those who consider that a military attack on Iraq would violate those principles, then there is a duty to speak out publicly. The response to this declaration suggests that many welcome an opportunity to do so, adding our voices to the growing number expressing disquiet in military and political circles as George W Bush and Tony Blair prepare for a war that could further destabilize one of the world's most volatile and violent regions, with devastating consequences for all the people of the Middle East." *New signatories include: Rt Rev Michael Hare Duke, Bishop of Beverley, Bishop of Chichester (Anglican) Bishop of Galloway, Bishop of Northampton (Roman Catholic), Gerard Hughes SJ, Wilfred McGreal O.Carm, Prior of Aylesford Priory Kent/ Provincial leaders of the following religious orders: Daughters of Wisdom, Passionists, Xavarian Missionary Society, Srs of St Joseph of Peace, Religious of the Assumption/ Churches Together in Loughborough, Kings Lynn, Stockport, Highgate, Wales, Manchester/ General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Wales/ academics from Universities in Oxford, Birmingham, Lancaster, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Religious communities in Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, Italy and concerned individuals from Australia, USA, Canada, Japan, India, Switzerland and Italy. If you would like to add your name to the petition, e-mail us and we will forward all names on to Pax Christi - or you can send a message directly to Pax Christi through their site on our Links pages.

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