Church leaders address Iraq in Easter messages - news from Ekklesia

By staff writers
April 21, 2003

Church leaders address Iraq in Easter messages

-21/4/03

Bishops and other church leaders were outspoken about the war with Iraq over the Easter weekend, with many of them steadfast in their opposition to it.

Perhaps the most original message came in the Easter message from the Archbishop of Canterbury who called for politicians, churchgoers and others to embrace new ways of thinking about issues of peace and war.

In a sermon at Canterbury Cathedral, Dr Williams said that the desire to cling on to ways of thinking that felt comfortable had characterised moral debate surrounding the conflict in Iraq.

The Archbishopís address centred on one of the ìmost devastatingly moving moments of the whole Bibleî: the moment when Jesus appears before Mary Magdalene after his crucifixion and tells her: ìDo not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.î

The Archbishop said: ìThere is a clinging to Jesus that shows itself in the longing to be utterly sure of our rightness. We want him there, we want him where we can see him and manage him, so that we know exactly where to turn to be told that everything is all right and that he is on our side.

ìWe do it in religious conflicts, we do it in moral debates, we do it in politics. We want to stand still and be reassured, rather than moving faithfully with Jesus along a path into new life whose turnings we donít know in advance.î

"The would-be peacemaker is often passionate in treating every kind of force as equally terrible, so that there is a single clear enemy over there to confront - all those with blood on their hands, American general as much as Iraqi executioner," he said.

The Archbishop of York, Dr David Hope, called for coalition forces to put as much energy into reconstructing Iraq as they had into toppling Saddam Husseinís regime.

"Quite frankly, despite all the promises, given how things currently are in Kabul and Afghanistan, post-war does not bode well as to how things might be in Baghdad and Iraq," he said.

He also called for the status of the United Nations to be restored and for the "re-establishment of trust".

Other senior bishops delivered stronger attacks with the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Rev John Gladwin, denouncing the war as "a profound and terrible evil" and arguing that the ends "do not justify the means".

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Michael Turnbull, said that the "most plausible" reasons for the coalition going to war - such as the existence of weapons of mass destruction - had not been proved. Less justifiable motives, such as control of oil fields, remained "possibilities", he said.

The Rt Rev Dr Finlay Macdonald, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said he had never been persuaded by the case for war, although Iraq was "well rid of Saddam Hussein".

The price of the war in lost lives had been high, he said, "not to mention the expenditure of obscene sums of money on missiles and bombs. Money which could have done so much to relieve suffering and poverty around the world".

The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-OíConnor, leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales, urged prayer for all victims of the conflict. He also spoke of the role of the international community after the war.

ìUppermost in my mind today are those who were caught up in fighting in Iraq, especially those, on both sides, who lost their lives or loved ones,î he said.

But the Pope, in his address to millions worldwide, moved away from the anti-war rhetoric and urged Britain and the US to entrust Iraq to its people and the United Nations.

He said: "With the international community's support may the Iraqi people become the protagonists of their collective rebuilding of their country."

Church leaders address Iraq in Easter messages

-21/4/03

Bishops and other church leaders were outspoken about the war with Iraq over the Easter weekend, with many of them steadfast in their opposition to it.

Perhaps the most original message came in the Easter message from the Archbishop of Canterbury who called for politicians, churchgoers and others to embrace new ways of thinking about issues of peace and war.

In a sermon at Canterbury Cathedral, Dr Williams said that the desire to cling on to ways of thinking that felt comfortable had characterised moral debate surrounding the conflict in Iraq.

The Archbishopís address centred on one of the ìmost devastatingly moving moments of the whole Bibleî: the moment when Jesus appears before Mary Magdalene after his crucifixion and tells her: ìDo not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.î

The Archbishop said: ìThere is a clinging to Jesus that shows itself in the longing to be utterly sure of our rightness. We want him there, we want him where we can see him and manage him, so that we know exactly where to turn to be told that everything is all right and that he is on our side.

ìWe do it in religious conflicts, we do it in moral debates, we do it in politics. We want to stand still and be reassured, rather than moving faithfully with Jesus along a path into new life whose turnings we donít know in advance.î

"The would-be peacemaker is often passionate in treating every kind of force as equally terrible, so that there is a single clear enemy over there to confront - all those with blood on their hands, American general as much as Iraqi executioner," he said.

The Archbishop of York, Dr David Hope, called for coalition forces to put as much energy into reconstructing Iraq as they had into toppling Saddam Husseinís regime.

"Quite frankly, despite all the promises, given how things currently are in Kabul and Afghanistan, post-war does not bode well as to how things might be in Baghdad and Iraq," he said.

He also called for the status of the United Nations to be restored and for the "re-establishment of trust".

Other senior bishops delivered stronger attacks with the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Rev John Gladwin, denouncing the war as "a profound and terrible evil" and arguing that the ends "do not justify the means".

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Michael Turnbull, said that the "most plausible" reasons for the coalition going to war - such as the existence of weapons of mass destruction - had not been proved. Less justifiable motives, such as control of oil fields, remained "possibilities", he said.

The Rt Rev Dr Finlay Macdonald, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said he had never been persuaded by the case for war, although Iraq was "well rid of Saddam Hussein".

The price of the war in lost lives had been high, he said, "not to mention the expenditure of obscene sums of money on missiles and bombs. Money which could have done so much to relieve suffering and poverty around the world".

The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-OíConnor, leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales, urged prayer for all victims of the conflict. He also spoke of the role of the international community after the war.

ìUppermost in my mind today are those who were caught up in fighting in Iraq, especially those, on both sides, who lost their lives or loved ones,î he said.

But the Pope, in his address to millions worldwide, moved away from the anti-war rhetoric and urged Britain and the US to entrust Iraq to its people and the United Nations.

He said: "With the international community's support may the Iraqi people become the protagonists of their collective rebuilding of their country."

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.