It saddens us profoundly to see the failure of efforts for peace in Iraq exerted by many parties throughout the world. In fact, governments, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, the World Council of Churches and regional councils of churches, and millions of people crying out in various cities throughout the world worked for a peaceful solution to prevail over the solution of war.
March 21, 2003
TO: Churches for Middle East Peace Email Network
FROM: Corinne Whitlatch
I apologize for the many messages from CMEP this week.
The Middle East Council of Churches, headquartered in Beirut, Lebanon, is the ecumenical voice of twenty-eight churches that comprise four families: Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical (Protestant). The General Secretary is Rev. Dr. Riad Jarjour
CommuniquÃ© by the Heads of Churches in the Middle East
It saddens us profoundly to see the failure of efforts for peace in Iraq exerted by many parties throughout the world. In fact, governments, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, the World Council of Churches and regional councils of churches, and millions of people crying out in various cities throughout the world worked for a peaceful solution to prevail over the solution of war. Today we have witnessed the start of a military campaign against the people and the land of Iraq. Nobody knows how long it will last or what impact it will have not just upon the people of Iraq but also upon the entire Middle East. Furthermore, there is no predicting the impact that the unilateral American decision for war will have upon the United Nations and international organizations, their credibility and their effectiveness in solving conflicts through negotiated agreements. They will be severely weakened, their authority shaken, their very existence threatened.
Churches around the world condemned this war as immoral. They have said this firmly and with conviction ever since this crisis began to develop. More specifically, they have condemned this war for its disregard of principles of international law, its ambivalence to the most basic human values and rights, its potential for tragic human repercussions in Iraq and the Middle East region, as well as its threat of aggravating tensions between religions, giving substance to the false thesis that there is an inevitable clash of civilizations, cultures and religions.
What we feared and labored to avert has happened. Now, in our responsibility as heads of churches, caretakers of God’s creation and as fellow humans, we have added responsibilities, and as such:
” We will continue to exert our efforts with all parties concerned and all who may have an effective voice both internationally and regionally so as to limit the temporal and geographical expansion of the war, spare innocent civilians, and bring it to a halt as quickly as possible.
” We call especially upon those governments that opposed this war and upon international organizations concerned with health, relief, development and human rights to hasten in helping those who have been hit by this war, helping them avert the dangers that threaten their lives, their possessions to live a dignified life.
” We urge the Middle East Council of Churches and all humanitarian organizations to remain on a state of high alert in marshalling, intensifying and directing social and humanitarian services both now and for as long as required in order to help those stricken by this war, especially in Iraq.
” We call on all the members of our churches and all citizens of our countries to strengthen their unity and solidarity with each other, resisting all foreign incursions and self-interested, extremist interferences that seek to undermine our national unity and fraternal coexistence.
” We call upon our faithful, our fellow citizens, and all who love peace throughout the world, each in his or her own way, to lift up their hearts in ardent and sustained prayer to our God that He may open the eyes and clear the vision of political decision-makers to see clearly God’s will and work for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace, not only for Iraq but also for the Middle East and the whole world.
Beirut, 21 March 2003
Patriarch Ingatious Zakka I Iwas
Catholicos Aram I
Patriarch Ignatious IV Hazim
Cardinal Nasrallah Butros Sfeir
Patriarch Nerses Pedros XIX
Patriarch Ignatious Butros VIII
Patriarch Gregorious III Lahham
Patriarch Michel Sabbah
Cardinal Istephanos II Ghattas
Patriarch Raphael Bedawid
Archbishop Kirollos Selim Bustoros
Rev. Dr. Selim Sahiouny
Bishop Riah Abul Asal
Bishop Munir Hanna
Rev. Dr. Safwat al-Baiady
Rev. Dr. Ikram Lamii
Rev. Adib Awad
Rev. Mograditch Kerakozian
Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace is a Washington-based program of the American Friends Service Committee, Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men’s Institutes, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of the Brethren, Church World Service, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Franciscan Mission Service, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Maryknoll Missioners, Mennonite Central Committee, National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church. For further information, see www.cmep.org.