From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Presiding Bishop Meets With Kofi Annan on U.N. Role in Iraq

Date Tue, 25 May 2004 13:57:13 -0500


May 25, 2004

ELCA Presiding Bishop Meets With Kofi Annan on U.N. Role in Iraq

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and
president of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), was one of 11
church leaders in New York to speak with Kofi Annan, secretary
general of the United Nations, May 24 about the role of the U.N.
in the transition of control in Iraq from military to civilian
leadership.  The National Council of the Churches of Christ in
the USA (NCC) hosted the 40-minute meeting.
     In a conference call with reporters after the meeting Hanson
said, "One of the key messages we conveyed was our support for
the secretary general's leadership and the critical moment for
his exercising strong leadership in the world today.  We
expressed our confidence in his leadership."
     The delegation included religious leaders from Europe and
North America.	The Rev. Bob Edgar, NCC general secretary,
carried letters to the meeting from church leaders in Africa and
the Middle East.
     As a U.S. church leader, Hanson said he asked Annan to help
the United States "move beyond a preoccupation with our national
self-interest to even laying down some of that self-interest for
the sake of sustaining peace in Iraq.  It is clear that the
United Nations is the crucial link between moving from occupation
by U.S. forces to a sustained self-governance by the Iraqi
     On May 24 the U.N. Security Council got its first look at a
U.S.-British resolution outlining a post-occupation Iraqi
     "We never knew, when we set up this meeting, that we would
be at the United Nations on such a critical day," Hanson said.
"We hope and sincerely pray that the United States will be
committed to that critical role of the United Nations in this
time of transition."
     Hanson said Annan recognized and encouraged religious
leaders working toward sustained peace in the world.  "We talked
clearly that sustained peace is not just the cessation of
violence or the removal of U.S. forces, but it is the presence of
the end of human suffering, the end of poverty and the complex
set of human factors that have been a result of this tragic war,"
he said.
     That evening U.S. President George W. Bush addressed the
United States on issues related to the transfer of power on June
30 in Iraq and the shared goal of the international community to
see a democratic government in Baghdad.
     Speaking before that address, Hanson said he hoped Bush
would acknowledge "that the future of Iraq rests now with the
United States' willingness to be a full partner with the United
Nations and the people of Iraq."
     "Can the United States give up economic, military and
political control of Iraq enough on June 30 to allow for the
transition, which will be complex and slow to occur, that Iraq
will be governed ultimately by Iraqi people?" Hanson asked.  "The
United States has to be willing to abdicate that power, and the
United Nations has to be willing to stand in the breach and
assume some of that leadership."
     Reporters asked the church leaders if they had spoken out
too much or too little in opposition to war in Iraq.
     "As I travel around the world, I hear appreciation for the
opposition to this war voiced by U.S. religious leaders that has
been heard more clearly throughout the world than in our own
administration in the United States," Hanson said.
     "Our plea now is that, even in the midst of a presidential
election, this administration would engage religious leaders
across a broader continuum than it's been willing to do around
our common commitment to a lasting peace in Iraq," he said.
     "We went to the United Nations today, not as an act of
opposition to the United States government, but in recognition
that this government is now at least publicly saying that only
through the United Nations can there be lasting peace.	So I see
our action today as a bridge to our U.S. government, not as
opposition to it," Hanson said.
     Other than Edgar and Hanson, church leaders who met with
Annan included:
+ Bishop Vicken Aykazian, ecumenical officer, Armenian Orthodox
Church Diocese of America, Washington, D.C.
+ The Rev. Keith Clements, general secretary, Conference of
European Churches, Geneva, Switzerland
+ The Rev. Karen A. Hamilton, general secretary, Canadian Council
of Churches, Toronto, Ontario
+ Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, associate general secretary for
international affairs and peace, NCC
+ The Rev. Cliff Kirkpatrick, stated clerk, Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.), Louisville, Ky.
+ The Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, ecumenical officer, Orthodox
Church in America, Syosset, N.Y.
+ The Rev. Michael E. Livingston, executive director,
International Council of Community Churches, and president-elect
of the NCC, Frankfort, Ill.
+ Paul Renshaw, coordinating secretary for international affairs,
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, London
+ James Winkler, general secretary, General Board of Church and
Society, United Methodist Church, Washington, D.C.
     The ELCA is one of 36 member communions of the NCC.  It is
also one of the LWF's 136 member churches in 76 countries.  The
LWF is based in Geneva, Switzerland, and represents 62.3 million
of the almost 66 million Lutherans worldwide; it elected Hanson
its president in 2003.
-- -- --
     A related news release is at
on the NCC Web site.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or

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