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British religious leaders opposed to invasion of Iraq

A group of Christian theologians and activists in the UK, in collaboration with the Catholic peace movement Pax Christi, has issued an ecumenical declaring a war against Iraq "immoral" and "illegal".

The declaration has among its initial supporters four Catholic bishops, and Archbishop Rowan Williams, predicted to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

The statement was launched last month, but gained widespread media attention this past weekend following its publication in the British Catholic newspaper The Tablet.

The declaration calls for 'a far-sighted and effective response' to the problem of terrorism through the processes of international law. It also argues that a clear distinction must be made between the 'war on terrorism', which is an act of political rhetoric, and any proposed military campaign against Iraq.

It draws attention to the historical situation in Iraq and to the on-going suffering of the Iraqi people, and it argues that the UN Charter precludes any pre-emptive strike against a sovereign state, no matter how great the perceived threat might be. The declaration supports the reintroduction of UN inspectors to Iraq, but it also calls upon the world's nuclear weapon states to honour their own obligations to conclude negotiations aimed at the abolition of nuclear weapons.

The statement is being circulated among Christian clergy, parishioners and academics for further signatures before being presented to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, on 6 August.

"The Morality and Legality of a War against Iraq - A Christian Declaration" (Text)
Pax Christi UK

The Age

15 Jul 2002