Churches issue call to stop the rush to war

 The British representatives on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, delivered the following statement today to the governments of the USA and UK: As representatives and participants from the United States, British and Canadian churches meeting at the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, we have heard and share the concern of those of other nations about the apparent drift towards military confrontation in Iraq. As the calls for military action to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq have grown louder, we call for restraint. We are concerned about the situation in Iraq. We believe that the Iraqi government has a duty to stop its internal repression, to end its threats to peace, to abandon its efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction, and to respect the legitimate role of the United Nations in ensuring that it does so. But we also believe that the international community is weakened and respect for law undermined when national governments act individually rather than collectively to secure these goals. We have watched with growing alarm as the United States government has become increasingly unilateral in its approach to foreign affairs, and has failed to heed the advice and counsel of friends and allies. Although both the US and UK governments have claimed that they have evidence that Saddam Hussein is building up weapons of mass destruction, they have so far refused to make that evidence public. This undermines democratic government by depriving the US Congress and the UK Parliament of the ability to make a considered judgment regarding the justification for war. Furthermore, the United Nations Charter does not permit states to engage in pre-emptive war. We therefore urge our governments to pursue this matter through the United Nations Security Council. In particular, we urge that Saddam Hussein's offer to re-admit UN Weapons Inspectors be accepted. Our knowledge of and links with church partners in the Middle East and our unity in Christ with Christians there make us very sensitive to the destabilizing potential of a war against Iraq for the whole region. There is no support among the Arab nations for such a war and very little support in Europe and elsewhere. Christian-Muslim relations would be further harmed by such a war, and the possibility of such an action triggering direct military confrontation in Israel cannot be ignored. Further, the forces of extremism and terrorism would be strengthened rather than diminished. As Christians, we are concerned by the likely human costs of war with Iraq, particularly for civilians. We are unconvinced that the gain for humanity would be proportionate to the loss. Neither are we convinced that it has been publicly demonstrated that all reasonable alternative means of containing Iraq's development of weapons of mass destruction have been exhausted. We call upon our governments to pursue these diplomatic means in active cooperation with the United Nations, and to stop the apparent rush to war. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." Matthew 5:9) (signed) The Revd Katherine Bannister United Methodist Church, USA The Revd Alyson Barnett-Cowan Anglican Church of Canada Ms Marion Best United Church of Canada The Revd Ruth A Bottoms Baptist Union of Great Britain Ms Lois McCullough Dauway United Methodist Church, USA The Revd Dr Robert Edgar National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA The Rt Revd C Christopher Epting Episcopal Church, USA Ms Alice-Jean Finlay Anglican Church of Canada The Revd Douglass Fromm Reformed Church in America Ms Anne Glynn-Mackoul Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East The Revd Dr David Goodbourn Churches Together in Britain & Ireland The Revd Wesley Granberg-Michaelson Reformed Church in America The Revd Dr Richard A Grounds United Methodist Church, USA The Revd Dr Richard L Hamm Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the US & Canada Ms Elenie K Huszagh National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA Archbishop Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East The Revd Dr Clifton Kirkpatrick Presbyterian Church - USA The Very Revd Leonid Kishkovsky Orthodox Church in America The Revd Stan McKay United Church of Canada The Revd Roy Medley American Baptist Churches, USA The Rt Revd Barry Morgan Church in Wales Mr Naboth M Muchopa Methodist Church, UK Ms Jennifer Nagel Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Mr Arthur Norman Evangelical Lutheran Church in America The Revd Dr Bernice Powell-Jackson United Church of Christ, USA The Revd Dr Bruce W Robbins United Methodist Church, USA The Rt Revd Barry Rogerson Church of England The Rt Revd Telmor Sartison Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada The Revd Dr Robert E Sawyer Moravian Church in America (Southern Province) The Revd Norman Shanks Church of Scotland The Revd Dr David Thompson Disciples Ecumenical Consultative Council The Revd Jill Thornton United Reformed Church of England The Revd Dr Angelique Walker-Smith National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc The Revd Gethin Williams Churches Together in Wales - Cytun Ms Louise Williams Evangelical Lutheran Church in America The Revd Robina Winbush Presbyterian Church - USA Bishop McKinley Young African Methodist Episcopal Church, USA source: Church of England Communications Unit

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