Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 7, 2002
Churches oppose Iraq invasion
Religious leaders call for relief efforts
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
As international pressure increases for an invasion of Iraq, Canadian Church leaders are warning against supporting any United Nations resolution that makes it impossible for Iraq to meet the demands.
Such a UN resolution "would be a mere cover for an invasion that might be multinational but would still be unjust," say the 15 Church leaders and heads of coalitions in a letter to Prime Minister Jean Chretien Sept. 25.
"This is a time for intense diplomacy and face-to-face negotiations, not for missiles and high-altitude bombing," said the letter. "This is especially a time for multilateralism."
The leaders, including Bishop Jacques Berthelet, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, asked Chretien to resist growing pressure in favour of a new invasion of Iraq.
Without referring to Israel by name, they said other countries should also be pressured to comply with UN Security Council resolutions - since "Iraq is not the only country that stands in violation of them" - and to reconsider onerous compensation obligations imposed on Iraq after the Gulf War.
The Church leaders said their decision to send a joint letter to Chretien was prompted by colleagues in the Middle East who want them to "speak and act against the threat of another war."
Canadian churches have had a long relationship with the Middle East Council of Churches, which includes churches in Iraq.
"Together they have been vocal in denouncing the devastating impact of 11 years of international sanctions against Iraq, sanctions they say have not weakened the oppressive grip of the Saddam Hussein regime but instead hurt ordinary and innocent Iraqi civilians," the leaders said.
The leaders called on the PM to ensure that the Canadian government supports a negotiated, peace-building approach "consistent with international law and taking the common good of Iraq's people as its starting point."
"We do not understand how a cataclysm can be averted without genuine negotiation," they said. "Furthermore, negotiations cannot open minds and possibilities if the universe is divided beforehand into two camps, the good and the evil, with 'our' side being only good. Such an approach, besides running counter to a Christian sense of sin and grace, reveals an arrogance which can only deepen anger and hostility."