WCC leaders reiterate need for US and Iran to step back from escalating conflict

By agency reporter
January 9, 2020

In the aftermath of armed attacks by both the US and Iran, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has reiterated its call for restraint and de-escalation of the confrontation.

“Further escalation and conflict between the United States and Iran can only serve short-term political interests, while threatening the permanent destruction of many lives, communities and precious cultural and environmental heritage”, said the  World Council of Churches General Secretary, the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit. “I appeal to political leaders on all sides of this confrontation to put the interests of the people of the region ahead of their own interests, and to seek peace through dialogue and negotiation rather than confrontation.”

On 3 January 2020, the WCC urged “maximum restraint” following the US air strike that killed Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Iran's most prominent military commander, at Baghdad airport in Iraq. Iranian missile attacks on bases in Iraq housing US and other international military personnel in the early morning of 8 January apparently resulted in no casualties and minimal damage. Shortly after the missile attacks, the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, stated that Iran has “concluded proportionate measures in self-defence” and that “we do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.” President Trump has acknowledged that Iran “appears to be standing down.”

“The Middle East has suffered so much conflict and bloodshed for so long”, said Peter Prove, WCC director for international affairs. “Armed attacks and military confrontation serve to perpetuate a never-ending cycle of continuous war in the region. We urge US and Iranian leaders to refrain from any measures that might risk further escalation, and to choose peace instead.”

“I call on WCC member churches around the world to join in prayers for peace”, added Tveit, “and pray that the leaders of these nations will be guided into and follow the way of peace.”

* The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2012 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 110 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.

* World Council of Churches http://www.oikoumene.org/en

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