Posted On : April 4, 2003 1:36 PM | Posted By : Admin ACO
We the Bishops of the Church in the Province of the West Indies, meeting at the Provincial Secretariat in Barbados, send greetings to the faithful throughout the Province. We greet you in the name of Our Creator God and his Son, Jesus Our Lord, the Prince of Peace.
We meet in the context of the Iraq crisis, as the world once more experiences the pain of war and yearns for peace. This war, like all wars, has raised a number of moral questions. They are questions that the Christian cannot ignore. War is abhorrent to the Christian drive for peace, guided by the Holy Spirit, and to the care of God for all his children and his entire creation. It runs counter to the teachings of our Lord, especially his teachings in the Sermon on the Mount about how we should treat those with whom we may find it difficult to agree.
For some time, there has been present among some Christians, the theory of the 'just war.' It is a theory that searches for a moral justification of war. If the criteria of proportionality and immunity are important in a 'just war' then it is difficult, if not impossible, to find any Christian or moral justification for the destruction of non-combatants. We stand aghast at the devastation wrought on the historic cities of Iraq by cruise missiles and smart bombs.
We, as a Province, are also aware that there cannot be any simplistic or easy solutions to the issues of international politics. However, we do believe that the human mind, guided by God's Holy Spirit, is capable of working through the complications and the contradictions that human behaviour often creates. We continue to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit on all those who are called to make critical decisions in the international arena.
We, at this time, given what we have said above, make the following points:
- As Christians, we cannot condone the assumed right of any country to develop weapons of mass destruction, or to engage in acts of oppression against its citizens or those of other nations, or to support terrorism.
- We strongly support the efforts of the nations of the world working through the United Nations to make this world a safer place. We acknowledge the United Nations as the proper forum for resolving international disputes. We believe that with universal commitment and with a deep sense of human solidarity and responsibility, people of all creeds and classes can live a full life in peace and harmony with all races.
- We strongly urge the governments of this region to support the collective decision-making process at work in the United Nations.
- We believe that there was a viable alternative to war, the way of peaceful disarmament through the inspection process. We regret that the process of weapons inspection was frustrated due to the commencement of war on Iraq.
- We hold the view that no small group of countries can assume for themselves the right to change the government or regime in another country. The war in Iraq demonstrates a frightening use of power that cannot be morally justified. It can place the entire world in crisis. It leads to the haunting question: "Who next?"
- We urge the recognition of all the terms of the Geneva Conventions applicable in times of war.
- We stand firmly with other Christian communities throughout the world who have expressed their opposition to the war in Iraq and have affirmed their desire for justice and peace through love.
- We support the efforts of the Secretary General of the United Nations and urge the individual members of the United Nations, especially those who are members of the Security Council, to persist in their work for the peace of the World.
- We urge the immediate cessation of hostilities and a swift response to relieve the pain and suffering that have been inflicted upon the people of Iraq.
- We remember before God all those who have lost their loved ones in the present crisis. We call on all persons to re-examine their attitudes to war and violence and to re-commit themselves to the pursuit of justice and peace.
- We pray that the Prince of Peace will guide all those who confess Him as Lord to be instruments of His peace in His world.
WE PRAY FOR THE PEACE OF THE WORLD.