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Church leaders around the world use Christmas to urge caution on war

Many media reports around the world in the last 24 hours are showing that the Church leaders of the world in their Christmas messages have been urging caution about using war against Iraq as a way to solve the terrorism threat. In its Christmas Day edition, the Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, ran a banner headline: "Humanity can win the 'battle' of peace". In covering a number of addresses given by Pope John Paul II over Christmas, Associated Press reports: "Although he didn't name Iraq, his remarks echoed comments in recent days about Iraq by top Vatican officials, who were reiterating Church teaching that "preventative" war is not considered a justifiable cause to take up arms. The Vatican fears the war on Iraq could unleash an anti-Christian crusade in the Muslim world". See summary reports below to get the flavour of the coverage.

Pope focuses message on war, peace

Invoking Christmas peace in a world made fearful by terrorism, Pope John Paul II on Wednesday urged cooperation to snuff out the "ominous smoldering" of conflict in the Middle East, keeping up the Vatican's campaign against war in Iraq.

SOURCE: AP-MSNBC

Archbishop Pell's Christmas plea for justice and peace

The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney warns that the highly probable war with Iraq will have unpredictable consequences. Dr George Pell has delivered a plea for justice and peace and he is warning Australia will be tested in the coming year.

"There are clouds of unease on the horizon as we celebrate Christmas early in this third Christian Millenium," he said.

"We pray that our society will not be tested beyond its strength so that whatever trials we need to confront will produce among us only strength, compassion, solidarity and will not lead us to ill will or despondency.

"Dark clouds too have a silver lining and dark clouds also beget life and development."

But Archbishop Pell says there are reasons to be grateful for good things taken for granted in Australia.

SOURCE: ABC online

Church Leaders' Iraq Plea

The growing prospect of war in Iraq has dominated the Christmas messages of religious leaders.

The Roman Catholic leader in England and Wales has urged people not to assume that war in Iraq is a certainty. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Conner, the Archbishop of Westminster, said efforts to avoid conflict should never end. "We must never give up and assume that war is inevitable," he told worshippers at midnight mass in Westminster Cathedral.

"Let us pray today, therefore, that each one of us, particularly those involved in international diplomacy and politics, will maintain our permanent commitment to building and maintaining peace in our world."

The Cardinal is the latest religious leader to voice concern over possible military strikes against Iraq. The Catholic bishops of England and Wales said in November that avoiding a war against Iraq was a moral responsibility.

The Archbishop of York, Dr David Hope, echoed the Cardinal's concern, but reiterated his viewĘthat a war on Iraq might be necessary as a last resort.

Joel Edwards, director of the Evangelical Alliance, which represents more than a million Evangelical Christians in the UK, said every effort should be made to find a peaceful solution to the crisis. He said any action against Iraq should be regarded as a "last resort" and should take place only with the backing of the UN.

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt Rev Peter Price, warned that such a conflict would unleash "evil" across the Middle East. The former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey and his successor Dr Rowan Williams have also voiced their concerns.

SOURCE: Sky News
ALSO SEE: Archbishop slams leaders over Iraq Reuters

27 Dec 2002