From the Worldwide Faith News archives

NCC Confers on Iraq With Schroeder, European Churches in Berlin

From "Nat'l Council of Churches" <>
Date Thu, 6 Feb 2003 11:30:49 -0500

National Council of Churches
Contact: NCC News, 212-870-2252 <>;

National Council of Churches Delegation, on Peace Mission in Berlin,
Confers with European Counterparts, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder

	February 5, 2003, BERLIN, Germany -- A delegation from the National
of Churches (U.S.A.) met in Berlin Feb.5 with 15 of their European and
Middle East counterparts to discuss their mutual concerns about a U.S.-led
invasion of Iraq.

	Following a press conference, the church leaders had a one-hour
conversation with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

	At the same time the ecumenical group was meeting in Berlin, the
Nations Security Council was hearing a report by U.S. Secretary of State
Colin Powell, making the Bush Administrations case for an invasion.

	Chancellor Schroeder, whom the NCC delegation said spoke "frankly and
clearly," reaffirmed his intention to maintain Germanys stance that there
is no compelling reason to rush to war with Iraq. He emphasized that he "is
no pacifist" but that Germany believes "war should not be just one more
tool" to be used routinely, the delegates reported.

Schroeder reminded the church officials that he had staked his career on
changing German foreign policy to allow the deployment of 10,000 troops now
on the ground in Afghanistan and the Balkans, but that his government did
not think the use of military force would be useful in the Iraqi case.

	The delegation said Schroeder emphasized that Germany is not taking
"anti-American" position, nor does it lack a commitment to fighting
terrorism. He said Germany simply disagrees on the necessity of going to war
with Iraq, they reported.

	The American delegation, led by General Secretary Dr. Bob Edgar of
National Council of Churches, included James Winkler of the United Methodist
Board of Church and Society, and Rebecca Larson of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America. They thanked the Europeans for inviting them to Berlin,
and for the expressed desire to work closely with American churches, Winkler

	Delegation members said they were surprised by the extensive media
in the meeting.  The press conference was documented by 14 television
cameras and approximately 40 reporters.  In a statement released to the
media, the group of religious leaders deplored "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

	The European meeting was convened by the World Council of Churches at
initiative of the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland. In addition to the
German hosts, the meeting drew church officials from ten other countries -
France, England, Scotland, Switzerland, Austria, Greece, Denmark, Sweden,
Norway and Finland. The Middle East Council of Churches was also

	The National Council of Churches visit to Berlin is the first of five
missions to major European capitals planned by American church leaders.
Other cities will include Paris, London, Moscow and Rome, NCCs Edgar said.

	"In the absence of compelling evidence that Iraq poses an imminent
threat, we will continue to press for a peaceful solution in which the
innocent families of Iraq are spared the terrible scourge of war," said Dr.
Edgar. "Even in the face of the Administrations insistence that a war is
unavoidable," he continued, "we believe America can win without war."


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