Welsh Anglican Bishops issue statement on Iraq

February 3, 2003

The bishops of the Church in Wales, along with the bishop-elect of Monmouth, submitted a statement to the British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee on January 31, in which they argue that the justifications suggested so far by the US and UK administrations in support of war against Iraq remain 'far from convincing.' A copy was also sent to Prime Minister Tony Blair ahead of his meeting with President George W. Bush.

In their statement, the bishops emphasize that, despite the report of chief weapons inspector Hans Blix to the United Nations, they are still not convinced that 'there is sufficient evidence of Iraqi intent, or threat to use whatever weapons of mass destruction (WMD) it has in its possession. Until such evidence is produced, we have to oppose the idea of such a war. In Christian terms the moral case for a just war are very strict indeed.'

The principles of a just war are:

- There must be a just cause

- The use of force is the only way left of effecting change

- There must be a properly constituted authority to pursue the war

- There must be a clear and achievable goal

- The amount of force used must be no more than is strictly necessary

- Reconciliation and the establishing of a just peace must be the ultimate end of the conflict and not conquest and subjugation.

The bishops continued, 'Even if possession and intent could be proved, there would still be issues to address from within these criteria, not least how pre-emption can be proportionate. Despite the claims of smart technology for limiting civilian casualties, we are concerned that the loss of innocent life in Iraq would be excessive. If 'regime change' is a war aim as well as the destruction of WMD capacity, this 'collateral' damage is likely to be particularly severe.

'We urge members of the British Government and the American administration, along with other members of the Security Council, to draw back now at the last minute from military intervention, unless and until substantial new evidence of intent as well as possession is available or it can be shown that such a war would improve regional and international security rather than undermine it, particularly with the risk of more terrorism.'

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