From the Worldwide Faith News archives

U.S. Church Leaders, in Rome, Ask Pope to Address U.N. Security

From "Nat'l Council of Churches" <>
Date Thu, 27 Feb 2003 14:54:06 -0500


National Council of Churches


Related Story: 2/26/03: International Church Leaders Bring Plea for Peace to
U.S. Capital

February 27, 2003, ROME, Italy - A U.S. church leaders delegation in Rome
February 26-27 delivered a plea to Pope John Paul II during a public
audience, asking that he come to New York to address the U.N. Security
Council and, in so doing, address the U.S. public on his opposition to war
with Iraq.

The visit to Rome is the fourth organized by the National Council of
Churches USA to European member countries of the Security Council.  During
Wednesdays public audience with Pope John Paul II, the delegation handed
the Pope a letter that expresses deep gratitude for all the Vatican is
doing to avert a war in Iraq.

Your voice, however, has barely been captured by the media in the United
States, the letter says.  Acknowledging the burden that coming to the
United Nations would place on the Popes frail health, they express their
desperation and write, (E)levating your moral voice could make all the
difference  in helping the U.S. pull back from the brink of war.

Father Joe Nangle of Washington, D.C., a Franciscan representing Pax Christi
USA on the delegation, presented the letter to the Pope.  The letter, signed
by Dave Robinson, National Coordinator, Pax Christi USA, supports a request
from Pax Christi International.  The National Council of Churches Executive
Board on February 25 unanimously endorsed the request.

Reported Father Nangle, When we approached the Pope we made our pitch.  It
s almost like a sound bite.  You dont have much time.	Its an emotional
moment and you hope that you get your message through.	We hope that your
prayers will be with us and with him as he hears those pleas.

During the papal audience the peace concerns of other people in attendance
were not far away, reported the Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner, New York, NCC
Deputy General Secretary and a Presbyterian Church (USA) minister.  On two
occasions people cried out Give peace a chance or Stand for peace, she

Today (Thursday, February 27), the delegation discussed the request with
Msgr. Giampaolo Crepaldi, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice
and Peace, who said he would present the request to the Vaticans Secretary
of State.  Pled the Rev. Dr. Tyrone Pitts, General Secretary of the
Progressive National Baptist Convention, Washington, D.C., Help us find a
way to peace.  If this war proceeds, the devastation will affect every

Hosted in Rome by the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy, the
six-member delegation also met on Wednesday with Fabio Mussi, the Vice
President of Italys Congress, and a Deputy Minister, Valdo Stini, an active
Waldensian churchman.

Mr. Mussi and Mr. Stini are both quite outspoken and known for their
position against using force against Iraq, said Rev. Dr. Victor Makari,
Coordinator for the Middle East and Europe, Presbyterian Church (USA),
Louisville, Ky.

They spoke bluntly and at great length to make the point that, if this war
is launched, there will be incalculable damage and irreparable damage,
beyond anyones ability to calculate, and it will be generations and
generations before it will be repaired, if ever.

They said it would break up the United Nations because it would be the will
of one country against the other nations of the international community,
Dr. Makari said.  It would divide Europe -- a division we cant afford to
have especially after so many years of working for union.  It would
marginalize the European Union and create huge internal and religious
problems especially in countries where there are significant Muslim
minorities.  And it would set West against East and East against West.

Commented delegation member, Dr. Pitts, I was really energized by the
meeting with Mr. Mussi and Mr. Stini.  We must go back to the United States
and be very clear about the immorality of this war.

The NCC delegations agenda also included a meeting with the Pontifical
Council for Christian Unity, where Msgr. John Mutiso-Mbinda, a senior staff
associate, stressed the importance of Christians being living letters to
one another, a concept promoted by the World Council of Churches, reported
the Rev. Dr. Gwynne Guibord, Office of Ecumenicity, Episcopal Diocese of Los
Angeles, Calif.  The Monsignor said that we must stand together, pray
together and act together as the Gospel requires, she said.

The delegations schedule also included other meetings with Italian church
leaders, public worship at a packed-full Baptist Church near the Italian
Parliament, a news conference and several one-on-one media interviews.

Describing the delegations message to a reporter, William Boyd Grove of
Charleston, W. Va., a retired United Methodist Bishop, said U.S. churches
are putting an enormous amount of energy toward averting the war on
Iraq.A great majority of U.S. churches are opposing the war and seeking to
find another way to resolve the conflict with Iraq.  Taking this opportunity
to make that known is important, because sometimes the people overseas dont
understand the churches opposition to the war in Iraq.

Asked why averting war with Iraq is a priority for American Christians, Dr.
Lindner reported, We said its the highest form of patriotism in a
democratic society to express your views, and the most sincere form of
Christian fidelity to work for peace.	The delegation visit concluded
Thursday evening with agreement between the NCC and Federation of Protestant
Churches in Italy of their sincere and deep commitment to peace; absence of
any anti-American sentiment; sober reflection on the devastation war would
cause; a European determination to resist the pressures to divide Europe,
create a religious war or destroy the U.N., and considerable hope that an
alternative to war can be found, Dr. Lindner said.

Earlier NCC delegations have met with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in
Berlin, British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London and the French Foreign
Ministry in Paris.  A fifth delegation to Moscow March 3-5 has an
appointment with Russias President Vladimir Putin.


New York, Carol Fouke, NCC, 212-870-2252;

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