Williams opposes Iraq war

Published September 1, 2002

Archbishop of Canterbury designate Rowan Williams, has given an early sign of robust political involvement by signing a statement against war on Iraq. The Christian Declaration, with nearly 3,000 names including those of other Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops, was handed to the British government on Hiroshima Day, Aug. 6, – the 57th anniversary of the world’s first use of a nuclear weapon in an act of war. Coinciding with reports that the United States, with possible British support, is preparing detailed war plans to remove Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, the declaration described an attack on Iraq as “immoral and illegal.” It said: “It is deplorable that the world’s most powerful nations continue to regard war as an acceptable instrument of foreign policy, in violation of both the United Nations and Christian teaching.” The declaration was organised by Pax Christi, the international Catholic movement for peace and was published in the weekly Roman Catholic journal, The Tablet. Meanwhile, Scotland’s senior Protestant cleric, Dr. Finlay Macdonald, moderator of the Church of Scotland, said Parliament should be recalled if there were any question of committing British troops to a war in Iraq. In a letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr. Macdonald said there should be “no question of the United Kingdom becoming involved in military action against Iraq that does not have the support of the United Nations.” The Pax Christi declaration was signed by Archbishop Williams before he was named as the next Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the world?s almost 70 million Anglicans in succession to George Carey, who retires next month. A spokesman for Pax Christi confirmed to ENI that Williams had not asked for his name to be removed from the document. In contrast to Archbishop Carey and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the Roman Catholic leader in England and Wales, Archbishop Williams has a record of political engagement. He has also attacked U.S. bombing in Afghanistan. The Pax Christi declaration said that only the United Nations Security Council had the authority to start military action except in cases of national self-defence. The peace declaration supported the return of U.N. weapons inspectors to Iraq, but urged “as a sign of good faith” that the United States and Britain should open their nuclear, chemical and bacteriological facilities to the same process of inspection.


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