From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ACNS3313 Ecumenical Church Leaders raise concerns with Tony

From "Anglican Communion News Service" <>
Date Tue, 18 Feb 2003 23:05:34 -0000

ACNS 3313     |     ENGLAND	|     18 FEBRUARY 2003

Ecumenical Church Leaders raise concerns with Tony Blair

by Matthew Davies

An ecumenical delegation of church leaders met today with Clare Short,
Secretary of State for International Development and UK Prime Minister, Tony
Blair, to convey a message of deep concern about the looming war with Iraq.

At a press conference following the meetings a considerable amount was said
in support of Tony Blair's responses to many of the issues that had been

The Revd Jim Wallis, Editor and Executive Director of Sojourners in
Washington DC, has already met with government officials from several
countries, including France, Italy and Russia. He described the meeting with
Tony Blair as a crucial step towards promoting "collective international
efforts" when it comes to resolving situations such as the current conflict
with Iraq. He said, "The British government is in a better position to shape
the decision, more so than any other leaders in the world."

The Rt Revd John Chane, Bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington DC,
reiterated Fr Wallis' remarks saying that Tony Blair is a key person in
resolving the issue and that they had not been able to engage in similar
conversations with the Bush administration.

In South Africa, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town said that
there are thousands protesting on the streets, as "the repercussions of war
in Iraq would influence the distribution of resources to Africa." This, in
turn, would have an adverse affect on poverty and the critical HIV/AIDS
crisis throughout the continent.

The discussion was not only limited to Iraq; anxieties were also mentioned
about the continuing hostilities between Israel and Palestine. The Rt Revd
Riah Abu El-Assal, Episcopal Bishop of Jerusalem, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria,
said that the war in the Middle East is viewed as "another crusade" and that
"if we don't address the cause then it could be catastrophic to the faithful
flock throughout the entire region."

When asked whether the delegation would support a war if the UN emerged with
a resolution allowing disarmament by force, the Anglican Bishop of Bath and
Wells, Peter Price, responded, "It is a very thorny question. What we are
attempting to do is offer as many peaceful alternatives as we can in order
to avoid that outcome."

It was evident that the US members of the delegation had much faith in Tony
Blair's response and it was apparent to them that without his constant
interaction with the Bush administration, "things could certainly be a great
deal worse."

The ACNSlist is published by the Anglican Communion Office, London.

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