WCC seeks peace and justice in Iraq after dictator's demise

By staff writers
30 Dec 2006

Following the execution of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein earlier this morning(30 December 2006), the general secretary of the World Council of Churches issued a statement asking God to grant the nation of Iraq "the mercy, justice and compassion that it has long been denied" and "an end to fear and death that marked Saddam Hussein’s rule and that continue now".

"We pray that those who hold power in Iraq now and in the future will create a new heritage of government for its people," declared the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia, who is a Methodist from Kenya. "May Iraq’s leaders pursue reconciliation and mutual respect among all its communities."

While holding a leader responsible for his crimes is significant, Dr Kobia said, "each taking of a person’s life is a part of a larger tragedy and nowhere is this more apparent than in a land of daily killings". The World Council of Churches is opposed to the death penalty on principle.

The WCC “promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world”. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today it brings together 348 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.

The full WCC statement is as follows:

At the death of Saddam Hussein, our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Iraq. We pray to God to grant this suffering nation the mercy, justice and compassion that it has long been denied. We hope against hope for an end to fear and death that marked Saddam Hussein’s rule and that continue now from other hands.

That a leader has been held responsible for one of his crimes is significant. However, the World Council of Churches is opposed to the death penalty. Each taking of a person’s life is a part of a larger tragedy and nowhere is this more apparent than in a land of daily killings.

We pray that those who hold power in Iraq now and in the future will create a new heritage of government for its people. May Iraq’s leaders pursue reconciliation and mutual respect among all its communities. May Iraq’s people be freed from violence and demagoguery, and be able to live where power is held to account and shared under the rule of law. May all parties and all authorities in Iraq now work to stay the hands of any that are tempted to use violence for political gain and all who put themselves above the law.

Iraq and its neighbours need peace, the peace that comes with justice for all.

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