From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Church delegations speaking with European leaders about Iraq

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Wed, 19 Feb 2003 14:37:48 -0600

Feb. 19, 2003  News media contact: Linda Bloom7(212)870-38037New York

NOTE: This report may be used as a sidebar to UMNS story #087.

By United Methodist News Service

The Feb. 18 meeting at 10 Downing Street is the third such exchange about
Iraq between U.S. religious leaders and European politicians.

Two weeks earlier, members of a U.S. delegation joined their European and
Middle Eastern counterparts in Berlin at a meeting that included an
hour-long, closed-door session with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. The
meeting, sponsored by the World Council of Churches, included three United
Methodist leaders: Bishop Walter Klaiber of Germany, James Winkler, chief
executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, and the Rev.
Robert Edgar, chief executive of the U.S. National Council of Churches.

The Feb. 5 Berlin meeting resulted in a statement opposing the use of war by
the United States or other countries "as an acceptable instrument of foreign
policy" but also calling upon Iraq to destroy any weapons of mass destruction
and cooperate fully with U.N. weapons inspectors.

On Feb. 10-11, a five-member NCC delegation met with French church members to
discuss peaceful solutions to the Iraq crisis. The French Protestant
Association hosted the Paris meeting, and other participants included
representatives of the Council of Catholic Bishops of France and Rudiger
Noll, an executive with the Conference of European Churches.

On the political front, the church leaders met with Hubert Colin de Verdiere,
general secretary of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has supported
President Bush's position regarding Iraq, was sought to make him aware that
many U.S. church leaders oppose a U.S.-led war against Iraq. Bishop Melvin
Talbert, ecumenical officer for the United Methodist Council of Bishops, was
among those who spoke with Blair. President Bush himself has yet to agree to
a request from church leaders for a meeting.

The National Council of Churches also intends to send delegations to Rome and

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United Methodist News Service
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