Anglican bishops secure assurances on any future action against Iraq

 Three senior Anglican bishops met with Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Mike O'Brien yesterday, to discuss continuing concerns surrounding the perceived threat of any future military action against Iraq. There was general agreement during the meeting that the most desirable outcome to the current political stalemate was for President Saddam Hussein to allow United Nations weapons inspectors immediate and unhindered access to Iraq. The bishops, of Southwark, Coventry and Bath and Wells, were encouraged by the Minister's acknowledgement that, before the intensification of military action, the Government would clearly need to spell out publicly the nature of the threat posed by Iraq. Assurances were given that, if endorsement from the United Nations Security Council were required to legally ground any military action, then the government would seek such endorsement. In concluding the meeting, the Minister recognised the deep anxieties held by a number of faith communities on this issue and gave reassurances that the faith communities would be fully consulted prior to any military action against Iraq. Commenting after the meeting, the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Rev Tom Butler, who chairs the Church of England's Board for Social Responsibility and is co-chair of the UK Interfaith Network, said: "This was a positive meeting. It allowed us to share many of the ethical and moral concerns, which this issue arouses. The Church values its relationship with the government and we look forward to further constructive engagement with the government on this issue before any final decision is taken." source: Church of England Communications Office

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