From the Worldwide Faith News archives

WCC: Berlin meeting on Iraq

From "WCC Media" <>
Date Wed, 05 Feb 2003 15:58:35 +0100

World Council of Churches
Update UP-03-02
For Immediate Use
5 February 2002

Church leaders united against war in Iraq

Cf. WCC Press Release, PR-03-08 of 3 February 2003-02-05

Meeting in Berlin on 5 February 2003 to discuss a common response by churches
to the threat of military action in Iraq, European church  leaders issued the
following statement. The meeting was convened by the World Council of
Churches (WCC) in consultation with the Conference of European Churches
(CEC), the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCCCUSA) and
the Middle East Council of Churches, hosted by the Evangelical Church in
Germany (EKD).

"1. As European church leaders, in consultation with councils of churches in
the USA and the Middle East, we remain extremely concerned with the continued
calls for military action against Iraq by the US and some European
governments. As people of faith, our love of neighbour compels us to oppose
war and to seek peaceful resolution of conflicts. As churches we pray for
peace and freedom, justice and safety for the people of Iraq and in the
Middle East as a whole. Such prayer obliges us to be instruments of peace. 

2. We deplore the fact that the most powerful nations of this world again
regard war as an acceptable instrument of foreign policy. This creates an
international culture of fear, threat and insecurity.

3. We cannot accept the stated objectives of a war against Iraq, as laid out
by these governments, in particular the US. Pre-emptive military strike and
war as a means to change the regime of a sovereign state are immoral and in
violation of the UN Charter. We appeal to the Security Council to uphold the
principles of the UN Charter which strictly limit the legitimate use of 
military force and to refrain from creating negative precedence and lowering
the threshold for using violent means to solve international conflicts.

4. We believe that military force is an inappropriate means to achieve
disarmament of any Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. We insist that the
carefully designed mechanisms of the UN weapons inspections be given the time
needed to complete their work. 

5. All UN member states have to comply with binding UN resolutions and
resolve conflicts by peaceful means. Iraq can be no exception. We call on the
Government of Iraq to destroy any  weapons of mass destruction and related
research and production facilities. Iraq must cooperate fully with UN weapons
inspectors, and guarantee full respect of the civil and political, economic,
social and cultural human rights for all its citizens.	The people in Iraq
must be given hope that there are alternatives to both dictatorship and war. 

6. A war would have unacceptable humanitarian consequences, including
large-scale displacement of people, the breakdown of state functions, the
possibility of civil war and major unrest in the whole region. The plight of
Iraqi children and the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis
over the past 12 years of sanctions regime weighs heavily on our hearts. In
the present situation, we strongly affirm long-standing humanitarian
principles of unconditional access to people in need. 

7. We further caution against the potential social, cultural, and religious
as well as diplomatic long-term consequences of such a war. Further fueling
the fires of violence that are already consuming the region will only
exacerbate intense hatred strengthening extremist ideologies and breeding
further global instability and insecurity. As church leaders in Europe we
have a moral and pastoral responsibility to challenge xenophobia in our own
countries as well as allay the fears of many in the Muslim world, that the so
called Western Christianity is against their culture, religion and values. We
should seek co-operation for peace, justice and human dignity.

8. All governments, in particular the members of the Security Council have
the responsibility to consider the whole complexity of this issue. All
peaceful and diplomatic means to compel Iraq to comply with UN Security
Council resolutions have not been exhausted.

9. For us it is a spiritual obligation, grounded in God's love for all
humanity, to speak out against war in Iraq. Through this message we send a
strong sign of solidarity and support, to churches in Iraq, the Middle East
and in the USA. We pray that God will guide those responsible to take
decisions based on careful reflections, moral principles and high legal
standards. We invite all churches to join us in this act of witness and to
pray for and encourage participation of all people in the struggle for a
peaceful resolution of this conflict."

List of participants 

Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, general secretary of the World Council of Churches

Rev. Dr Keith Clements, general secretary of the Council of European Churches

Prdses Manfred Kock, president of the Council of the Evangelischen Kirche in
Deutschland (EKD) 

Bishop Dr. Walter Klaiber, head of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher
Kirchen in Deutschland (ACK) and Evangelical-Methodist Church (Germany)

Rev. Dr Jean-Arnold de Clermont, president of the Protestant Federation of

Bishop Mag. Herwig Sturm, Evangelical Church of the Augsburg and Helvetic
Confessions in Austria 

Rev. Thomas Wipf, president of the Federation of  Swiss Protestant Churches 

Bishop Jonas Jonson, Bishop of the Church of  Sweden and Rev. Kjell Jonasson,
Church of Sweden 

Rev. Canon Dr Trond Bakkevig, Church of Norway 

Archbishop Jukka Parma, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland 

Bischop Karsten Nissen, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark 

Dr. Alison Elliot, Church of Scotland and Churches Together in Scotland

Rev Arie W. van der Plas, Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and Uniting
Protestant Churches in the Netherlands 

Archbishop Feofan, Russian Orthodox Church, archbishop of  Berlin and Germany

Bishop Athanasius of Achaja, Church of Greece 

Rev. Dr. Nuhad Daoud Tomeh, representing the General Secretariat of the
Middle East Council of Churches  

Dr. Bob Edgar, general secretary, National Council of Churches of Christ in
the USA  

James Winkler, general secretary, General Board of Church and Society of the
United Methodist Church, USA 

Rev. Dr Rebecca Larson, executive director, Division for Church and Society,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, USA

Mr. Thor-Arne Prvis, director of Action by Churches Together (ACT)
International, Geneva

WCC staff:
Mr Peter Weiderud, director WCC Commission of the Churches on International

EKD Secretariat:
Bishop Dr Rolf Koppe
Rev. Dr Christa Grengel
Rev. Dr Dagmar Heller

Church of England
H.H. Bartholemew, Ecumenical Patriarch
Evangelical Church of Spain

Photos from the meeting will be available on Photo Oikoumene: 

For further information, please contact the Media Relations Office,  tel: +41
(0)22 791 64 21 / (41 22) 791 61 53


The World Council of Churches (WCC) is a fellowship of churches, now 342, in
more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian
traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works
cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which
meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in
1948 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary
Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.

World Council of Churches
Media Relations Office
Tel: (41 22) 791 6153 / 791 6421
Fax: (41 22) 798 1346

PO Box 2100
1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland

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