In a statement ahead of the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq (19 March 2007), the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia, warns of "further carnage and destruction" because "the sponsors of this tragic war insist on carrying on military pursuits".
"We hear the cries of the Iraqi people, the women, the children and the innocent civilians who are in pain and agony and despair," Dr Kobia declares, citing studies that report over 600,000 Iraqi casualties as a direct and indirect result of violence since the 2003 invasion, as well as more than 1,6 million refugees displaced by the war.
This situation "demands that the churches continue not only to assist and support the victims of this disastrous war, but also to speak on their behalf and to redouble interventions for peace with governments and with intergovernmental bodies" adds the Kenyan Methodist - who heads up a global alliance of Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and indigenous churches.
Dr Kobia praises the encouraging "upsurge of anti-war sentiments all over the world [and] particularly in the United States," whose churches "are called to witness to Jesus Christ, the life of the world". He calls on WCC member churches "to pray and intercede on behalf of the people of Iraq, before God, that the war forced upon them may come to an end and that peace with justice and dignity may prevail".
The World Council of Churches general secretary recalls that in 2003 "political brinkmanship and the arrogance of power triumphed over reason and good sense" as appeals to exercise restraint by churches and civil society as well as by the international community "were ignored with contempt and disdain".
At that time, the WCC executive committee has called the war "immoral, ill-advised and in breach of the principles of the United Nations Charter". The committee warned that the war would cause an "humanitarian crisis of great magnitude with untold human suffering, specially for the children of Iraq, loss of life, property, environmental destruction and waste of precious resources".
The WCC elected body also warned of regional consequences, saying the war would "reinforce and polarize division and hatred between communities, resulting in further destabilization in the region".
Dr Kobia notes that "four years down the road, the above has come true". Today, Iraq "is in turmoil and disarray," with "strong indications that the country may fragment, creating greater chaos and human suffering". In particular, "ethnic and sectarian tensions and conflict" are putting the country "on the brink of a civil war".
Only a "federal system of governance that meets the aspirations of the three communities" - Sunnis, Shias and Kurds - can avoid "chaos, confusion and blood-letting even worse than what we witness at present". For such "an equitable and just formula of power-sharing" to be achieved, "adjustments, concessions and, most of all, understanding and patience" from all sides are needed.
The full text of the statement is available at: http://www.oikoumene.org/index.php?id=3271