Christian Peacekeeper Teams pledge to remain in Baghdad

 Another team of 'Christian Peacemakers' (CPT), arrived in Baghdad before just before the bombing started.The team comprises members from the United States and Canada. CPT is a program of Brethren, Quaker and Mennonite Churches and other Christians that support non-violence. They are committed to reducing violence by getting in the way, along with Iraq Peace Team (IPT), and to accompany threatened Iraqi civilians. CPT has posted volunteers in Iraq since October 25, 2002. More recently, additional delegations have gone to Iraq to educate the public and 'get in the way; of potential military attacks. In the event of an escalation (as has already occurred), CPT and IPT members have promised to continue to accompany prayerfully Iraqi civilians at specific places, and document the on-going catastrophe of war. The CPT has been praying, holding vigils and fasting at various places in Baghdad. Prior to Thursday's attacks, the team has been calling on people of faith to do all they can to stop further bombing of Iraq. One CPT member, Margaret (Peggy) Gish from Goshen, Indiana, said in a statement: "We are one small part of a larger worldwide movement putting pressure on our government to find a peaceful solution. I am here to be among the Iraqi people, letting them know we care, that their lives are just as important as ours, and that they are our friends, not enemies. I want to be a voice for the Iraqi people to the people back home." Another team member, Scott Kerr, from Downers Grove, Illinois, said: "When Christians take peacemaking as seriously as governments take war making, we will change the world." On March 15, 2003, CPT wrote a letter from Baghdad, addressed to the churches in Canada and the United States. They said: "As members of Christian Peacemaker Teams, from both Canada and U.S., we have found a warm welcome in the homes of Iraqis. We have visited the institutions that shape this society. "Iraqi people understand that the low intensity war of sanctions and bombings in the 'no fly' zones is perpetrated by our very own government. Yet they seem to have the moral and spiritual resources to treat us graciously, even though our bombings and sanctions have destroyed their economy for more than a decade, killing hundreds of thousands of people, many of them children. "Despite these facts, the US government and some of its citizens, as well as some people in other countries, view Iraq as the enemy. "We urge our governments to learn to be as gracious and loving as the Iraqi people, to cease bombing and threatening Iraq, and instead to develop non-violent and just economic, cultural and religious relationships. "We believe that the health and well-being of our own children and the equally beautiful children of Iraq depend upon stopping these cycles of war and economic violence. "Our battle is not against human forces, but against the rulers and authorities and their dark powers that govern this world (Ephesians 6: 12) "Bombing and invading a country will not stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It will not bring about good government, nor is it moral to take over the resources of another country. To care for God's creation, we desire the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction from every country in the world. Christian leaders of all denominations are calling out against this war. "We accompany the people of Iraq by visiting families, hospitals, churches, mosques and orphanages, by listening to shopkeepers and people on the street. We pray and fast; we report our experiences to our church communities and attempt to love the individuals who plan to bomb the Iraqis and us. "In order to live out our convictions, we will continue to be prayerfully present in Iraq and develop friendships with Iraqi people even in the event of an escalation of violence here. We don't know what we might experience in a bombing or occupation, but we plan to accompany civilians in specific places of our choosing. In an occupation, we will be on the streets, documenting and trying to prevent human rights abuses. At this time, the Iraqi government is not restricting us or determining where we go or what we do. We will continue to cry out against the apostasy of war in this setting of God's creation. "We invite you, sisters and brothers, to the non-violent life of Jesus. From prayer and fasting find the strength to stop paying for war. From joy in discipleship, hold fast to the evangelistic boldness to invite soldiers and corporate technocrats to abandon their posts. From the faith that teaches us that we are all sisters and brothers, believe in the reality of barriers broken down between all enemies. Live in Easter hope." For more information about CPT visit: The Missionaries of Charity, who run an orphanage in Baghdad have alse refused to leave. The Superior, Sr Densy said she and three other nuns would be remaining with the children because they were needed.

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