Iraq War Peace appeals by hierarchs

Peace appeals from Orthodox Bishops and Organizations since the Iraq War began

Patriarch Ignatius: an appeal to help the afflicted

From the Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius IV,

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East

This is a time of fear and sorrow for many. As Church leaders of the Middle East we spoke in one voice. We, Orthodox Christians of the Patriarchate of Antioch, are concerned for the people of Iraq as the unjust war against their country intensifies. The voices of Churches, and millions of people of good will, opposing the immoral and illegal use of force was unheard. We have repeatedly stated that such a unilateral and preemptive action, where the logic of might prevails, is a defeat of international law and diplomacy, with grave consequences for the world. The war causes, in our region and well beyond, great pain and anger. It must stop. As people of faith this is our cry today.

Many Iraqis are, and will be, displaced. Many are threatened in their lives and possessions. The present war continues their long-enduring suffering. We pray for all the Iraqis, our spiritual children, the Antiochian Orthodox, and their compatriots, Christians and Muslims. We urge our faithful and our friends to express solidarity and support generously the humanitarian efforts that our Church, in coordination with other Churches, towards the relief of the afflicted.

May the Lord of Peace bless you all.

Ignatius IV

Patriarch of Antioch and all the East

March 24th, 2003

SCOBA Hierarchs Issue Appeal For Prayer

We, the hierarchs of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas are compelled by our spiritual obligation as peacemakers, to express the anguish in our hearts that, once again, due to the presence of sin and evil in the world, nations and people of faith have been unable to avoid a dreadful confrontation.

As heads of Orthodox Christian communities in North America we are compelled to call our pious clergy and faithful to pray for peace and for respect of the sanctity of all human persons.

We ask our churches to open their doors during this season of the Great Lent for people to enter, light a candle, and pray for peace and reconciliation among nations.

We exhort our faithful to pray for all the people who live in areas of conflict, for the innocent women, children and elderly who live in places of high risk and harm, for those in flight, for refugees throughout the region who join others on a journey of profound uncertainty.

We pray for the security and well-being of our military personnel, for advisors and diplomats, and for families at home, who must live in fear for the safety of their loved ones.

We pray for our President and all civil authorities, for their discernment and divine guidance during this difficult time.

This tragic war, combined with the threat to security at home, has created enormous fear and anxiety throughout the world. Only the Prince of Peace, who said “My peace I give to you” (Lk 14:27), can allay this fear and anxiety.

Please know, dearly beloved that our humanitarian aid agency, the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), has already prepared itself to address the tremendous needs that will confront the world in the days ahead. This response will include the distribution of “survival packs” to persons fleeing Iraq, provisions of medical assistance to ill or disabled refugees in Jordan, and the distribution of humanitarian relief within Iraq. We urge you to help IOCC in this massive philanthropic effort.

May the peace and love of God be with all of you.

With paternal love and blessings,

+Archbishop DEMETRIOS, Chairman

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

+Metropolitan HERMAN

Orthodox Church in America

+Metropolitan PHILIP, Vice Chairman

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

+Archbishop NICOLAE

Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America and Canada

+Metropolitan CHRISTOPHER, Secretary

Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada

+Metropolitan JOSEPH

Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church

+Metropolitan NICHOLAS of Amissos

American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the USA

+Metropolitan CONSTANTINE

Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA

+Bishop ILIA of Philomelion

Albanian Orthodox Diocese

April 2, 2003

The IOCC toll-free telephone number to call is 1-877-803-4622.

Make a gift on-line at www.iocc.org/iraq

Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana: Is Religion to Be Another Victim of this War?

Declaration Regarding the Iraq War by Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana, Durres and All Albania

Long is the list of victims from the war in Iraq: women and children, soldiers fallen or about to fall in battle, the international economy, international legitimacy, the U.N., truth and justice, and many others — whether by direct or indirect means. Religion, too, is in danger of becoming one of these victims. Leaders of both sides have already used religious terms, by invoking God. In our time, religions continue to influence people, but do not determine the decisions of political and economic leaders. These decisions are made on the basis of different calculations and interests.

Religious consciousness, however, is called upon to resist war, so that religion retains its sacred role of peacemaking, reconciliation, forgiveness and the healing of wounds.

At the numerous interfaith conferences that have taken place over the last few years, representatives of different faiths have agreed that religion has to bring peace and support peace in the world; that violence and terrorism –individual, group or state-initiated — are against the true spirit of religion; and they have condemned, in particular, invoking God’s will to justify violence and war.

At the same time, these participants have undertaken the responsibility to make the cries of those who are suffering from violence their own, and contribute their utmost in securing the freedom and dignity of every person and of all peoples.

The blowing winds of war must not sweep away the sacredness of religion, contaminating the hearts of people with bitterness and enmity for each other’s religion. Much greater catastrophes than those caused by weapons of mass destruction could be produced by the incitement of religious intolerance. The radioactivity of hatred, enriched by the ‘uranium’ of religious passion, will last long after hostilities have ceased, for decades, maybe even for centuries — as was the case of the Crusades and “holy wars” in the past.

Those who believe in “the God of peace” (Rom 15:33; Phil 4:9; Hebr 13:20, etc.), and particularly those who have committed themselves to serving Him, cannot help but repeat insistently the supplication “for peace in the whole world”, and strive to do whatever is possible to let justice and peace prevail on earth.

31st March, 2003

Communique by the Heads of Churches in the Middle East

It saddens us profoundly to see the failure of efforts for peace in Iraq exerted by many parties throughout the world. In fact, governments, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, the World Council of Churches and regional councils of churches, and millions of people crying out in various cities throughout the world worked for a peaceful solution to prevail over the solution of war. Today we have witnessed the start of a military campaign against the people and the land of Iraq. Nobody knows how long it will last or what impact it will have not just upon the people of Iraq but also upon the entire Middle East. Furthermore, there is no predicting the impact that the unilateral American decision for war will have upon the United Nations and international organizations, their credibility and their effectiveness in solving conflicts through negotiated agreements. They will be severely weakened, their authority shaken, their very existence threatened.

Churches around the world condemned this war as immoral. They have said this firmly and with conviction ever since this crisis began to develop. More specifically, they have condemned this war for its disregard of principles of international law, its ambivalence to the most basic human values and rights, its potential for tragic human repercussions in Iraq and the Middle East region, as well as its threat of aggravating tensions between religions, giving substance to the false thesis that there is an inevitable clash of civilizations, cultures and religions.

What we feared and labored to avert has happened. Now, in our responsibility as heads of churches, caretakers of God’s creation and as fellow humans, we have added responsibilities, and as such:

* We will continue to exert our efforts with all parties concerned and all who may have an effective voice both internationally and regionally so as to limit the temporal and geographical expansion of the war, spare innocent civilians, and bring it to a halt as quickly as possible.

* We call especially upon those governments that opposed this war and upon international organizations concerned with health, relief, development and human rights to hasten in helping those who have been hit by this war, helping them avert the dangers that threaten their lives, their possessions, and their right to live a dignified life.

* We urge the Middle East Council of Churches and all humanitarian organizations to remain on a state of high alert in marshalling, intensifying and directing social and humanitarian services both now and for as long as required in order to help those stricken by this war, especially in Iraq.

* We call on all the members of our churches and all citizens of our countries to strengthen their unity and solidarity with each other, resisting all foreign incursions and self- interested, extremist interferences that seek to undermine our national unity and fraternal coexistence.

* We call upon our faithful, our fellow citizens, and all who love peace throughout the world, each in his or her own way, to lift up their hearts in ardent and sustained prayer to our God that He may open the eyes and clear the vision of political decision-makers to see clearly God’s will and work for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace, not only for Iraq but also for the Middle East and the whole world.

Beirut, 21 March 2003

Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas

Catholicos Aram I

Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim

Archbishop Chrysothomos

Cardinal Nasrallah Butros Sfeir

Patriarch Nerses Pedros XIX

Patriarch Ignatious Butros VIII

Patriarch Gregorious III Lahham

Patriarch Michel Sabbah

Cardinal Istephanos II Ghattas

Patriarch Raphael Bedawid

Archbishop Kirollos Selim Bustoros

Rev. Dr. Selim Sahiouny

Bishop Riah Abul Asal

Bishop Munir Hanna

Rev. Dr. Safwat al-Baiady

Rev. Dr. Ikram Lamii

Rev. Adib Awad

Rev. Mograditch Kerakozian

Patriarch Alexis: They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind

March. 17, 2003

Statement by Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia

And the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church

On the Situation Around Iraq

For the last several months the world has lived in a situation of growing tension around Iraq. The USA with the support of Great Britain and some other countries are planning to launch large-scale military actions against this country, trying to justify them by the danger of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The Russian Orthodox Church, along with all people of good will, is concerned about the proliferation and the use of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Many religious leaders have repeatedly stressed that the observance of international norms in this areas is one of the essential conditions for peace on the planet.

Insisting on a peaceful diplomatic way of settling this problem in Iraq, our Church has repeatedly called to lift up the economic sanctions from this country as they have already led to the suffering of civilians, especially sick people and children. In the context of efforts made by the world public to strengthen peace in the Middle East, we have established a dialogue with the religious, public and political leaders in Iraq.

In the course of the dialogue we stressed the necessity of taking such measures by Iraqi government that will remove all doubts of the international community regarding the war potential of this country. The decision to resume the work of international inspectors was accepted with satisfaction by the majority of people on our planet because that meant the choice for a peaceful way of settling the existing problems.

Today there are no reasons for stopping the mission of international inspectors and commencing military operations. Nations cannot be deprived of a chance to establish peace.

The war in Iraq will inevitably lead to the death and suffering of a tremendous number of innocent people, as always in such a case civilians like children, women, old people will be injured, there will be thousands of refugees. It is absolutely obvious that military operations in this oil production region can turn out to be a global ecological catastrophe. All this may blow up the situation in the Middle East, creating a threat to peace and stability in the whole world.

Today the Russian Orthodox Church addresses appeal to the governments of those countries on which the decision to begin or not to begin war depends to do all that is possible to avoid an armed conflict.

For the actions that are taken without considering the opinion of the international community, the opinion of a majority of people on the Earth, destroy the existing system of international law and inter-governmental institutions. The first blow on its foundations was already struck by the bombing of Yugoslavia, which was initiated without the sanction of the United Nations and which led to destruction and death of thousands of people in the very center of Europe. Now another action is being prepared, which can turn the existing world order into ashes. The violation of legal norms sows chaos and arbitrariness, for lawlessness always generates more lawlessness. “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind” (Hos.8:7), says Holy Scriptures.

Our Church supports the efforts of the governments, spiritual and public leaders in various countries who have come out against the military operations and rejects the attempts to justify this war. We call upon the nations of the world to stop military preparations against Iraq, to prevent bloodshed of innocent people. We plead the God “to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Lk. 1:79) and to protect the biblical earth of Iraq against the fire of war.

Moscow, 17 March 2003, Saint Daniel Monastery

The celebration of the 700th anniversary of the falling asleep in the Lord of saint prince Daniel of Moscow

http://www.russian-orthodox-church.org.ru/ne303171.htm

Patriarch Alexis: Stop the bloodshed

Statement by Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia On the Beginning of Military Operation Against Iraq

Early in today’s morning, the British-American coalition has launched missile and bombing strikes against Iraqi cities. This happened in defiance to the opinion of the UN Security Council, the majority of the world community members and religious leaders who had opposed a military solution of the problems around Iraq.

The Russian Orthodox Church has exerted herself to establish dialogue with the Iraqi leaders. It was immediately before the operation that our delegation together with Russia’s Muslims visited Baghdad with a peace mission. This visit testified to the solidarity of the Russian faithful with the Iraqi people and showed that the use of force is not to be explained by the confrontation between Christianity and Islam and that this conflict has no religious roots. However, our efforts have proved vain. The military machine has been started up.

The operation has already caused first human victims in Iraq. If the operation continues, they will inevitably grow in number. Civilians, both Muslims and Christians, will die not only of bombs, but also of deprivations that always accompany military actions. It is foreseeable that cultural monuments and shrines associated with the biblical history will be damaged. The hearts of the Russian Orthodox faithful are filled with sympathy for the suffering Iraqi nation: children, women, old, sick and infirm people.

On this tragic day, our Church urges the countries neighboring to Iraq: Do not refuse aid to refugees, give asylum to victims and comfort them with your sincere affection.

The Russian Orthodox Church once again calls upon the governments of the anti-Iraq coalition member-states: Stop bloodshed! Make your best to prevent military actions form expanding. Resume peace negotiations. Spare thousands of innocent people. I call everyone, who is capable to contribute to the cessation of war, to make his best to put an end to it as soon as possible.

I offer up my prayers to God that He may establish peace in the Middle East. May the Lord grant us wisdom for settling the situation in Iraq and around this country.

March 20, 2003

Moscow

Russian Orthodox Church

Department for External Church Relations, Office of Communication

22, Danilovsky val

St.Danilov monastery

113191 Moscow, Russia

Internet: http://www.russian-orthodox-church.org.ru

E-mail address: [email protected]

Patriarch Bartholomew: Respect the sanctity of the human person

March 19, 2003

In these very critical days through which humanity proceeds, the Ecumenical Patriarchate repeats again its wish and prayer for peace and for the avoidance of war even in this last moment. It makes a plea to whoever is able to contribute to this end to exhaust all of their means so that humanity will not mourn new victims and horrible holocausts.

With this opportunity, the Ecumenical Patriarchate reminds everyone that the basic prerequisite of peace is the respect for the sanctity of the human person and his freedom and dignity. From this respect are born all other prerequisites for the peaceful co-existence of all human beings on Earth in the love of one God and Father, who is not a God of war and battle but of reconciliation and peace.

May peace and good will be established permanently on Earth for the glory of God and the prosperity of all human beings, whom God loves equally.

Bartholomew

At the Patriarchate, Istanbul, March 19, 2003

Syndesmos: attacks took place when a peaceful solution was still possible

Statement of the World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth on the war against Iraq

In the name of justice and liberation, two governments have taken up arms against Iraq. Shadows of death and suffering are covering this ancient biblical land already devastated by oppression.

The attacks took place when a peaceful solution was still possible. It would have required time, persistence, wisdom, statesmanship and patience. The causes that have been proclaimed in order to justify this aggression cannot justify the suffering of civilians that we see in Baghdad and other cities in Iraq.

As Orthodox Christian young people from all local Orthodox Churches, we reject the military campaign that was launched on March 19 as the solution for the necessary disarmament of the Saddam Hussein regime, as we always reject violence and hatred in any form, provoked by any government or individual. We fear that seeds of hatred are being sown that may poison the lives of generations to come.

Our Lord, the God of Love — but God of Justice as well, heeds the voices of the suffering, just as in ancient times He heeded the cry of His enslaved people by the rivers of Babylon. As the descendants of Abraham in the New Covenant, as the youth of His People, we declare that the death or suffering of the innocent will not make this world a more just or safe place to live. The fruit of the Lord’s righteousness is peace (Is. 32:17). This is the truth and justice that all leaders involved must pursue.

We also express our concern for the safety and wellbeing of the Orthodox Christians of the troubled region of the Middle East and the lands of the ancient Patriarchal Sees.

In this holy period of Great Lent, Christians all over the world are following the Lord into His suffering, death and Resurrection. We pray that the light of His Resurrection inspire the hearts of those in power to seek peace and stop this war. We call upon those who fight to exercise mercy. We pray that our Lord Jesus Christ may protect, preserve and comfort the Holy Churches of the East.

Athens, 28 March 2003

SYNDESMOS, The World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth, was founded in 1953 in France by a group of young Orthodoxtheologians who sought to strengthen the witness and unity of the Orthodox Church. SYNDESMOS works with the blessing and support of the heads of all Orthodox Churches to encourage deeper reflection, renewal and witness of Orthodox Christianity. In fifty years, SYNDESMOS has grown into an internationally recognised fellowship of 126 youth movements and theological schools in 42 countries. Still it remains a youthful and dynamic movement focusing on youth, Orthodox unity and fellowship.

SYNDESMOS General Secretariat

PO Box 66051, Holargos 15510, Greece

Tel: +302106560991, Fax: +302106560992

email: [email protected]

web: http://www.syndesmos.org

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Patriarch Alexis: “Guide Our Feet Into the Way of Peace”

Statement by Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church on the Situation Around Iraq

For the last several months the world has lived in a situation of growing tension around Iraq. The USA with the support of Great Britain and some other countries are planning to launch large-scale military actions against this country, trying to justify them by the danger of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The Russian Orthodox Church, just as all people of good will, is concerned for the proliferation and the use of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Many religious leaders have repeatedly stressed that the observance of international norms in this areas is one of the essential conditions for peace on the planet.

Insisting on a peaceful diplomatic way of settling this problem in Iraq, our Church has repeatedly called to lift up the economic sanctions from this country as they have already led to the suffering of civilians, especially sick people and children. In the context of efforts made by the world public to strengthen peace in the Middle East, we have established a dialogue with the religious, public and political leaders in Iraq.

In the course of the dialogue we stressed the necessity of taking such measures by Iraqi government that will remove all doubts of the international community regarding the war potential of this country. The decision to resume the work of international inspectors was accepted with satisfaction by the majority of people on our planet because that meant the choice for a peaceful way of settling the existing problems.

Today there are no reasons for stopping the mission of international inspectors and commencing military operations. Nations cannot be deprived of a chance to establish peace.

The war in Iraq will inevitably lead to the death and suffering of a tremendous number of innocent people, as always in such a case civilians like children, women, old people will be injured, there will be thousands of refugees. It is absolutely obvious that military operations in this oil production region can turn out to be a global ecological catastrophe. All this may blow up the situation in the Middle East, creating a threat to peace and stability in the whole world.

Today the Russian Orthodox Church addresses appeal to the governments of those countries on which the decision to begin or not to begin war depends to do all that is possible to avoid an armed conflict. For the actions that are taken without considering the opinion of the international community, the opinion of a majority of people on the Earth, destroy the existing system of international law and inter-governmental institutions. The first blow on its foundations was already struck by the bombing of Yugoslavia, which was initiated without the sanction of the United Nations and which led to destruction and death of thousands of people in the very center of Europe. Now another action is being prepared, which can turn the existing world order into ashes. The violation of legal norms sows chaos and arbitrariness, for lawlessness always generates more lawlessness. “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind” (Hos.8:7), says Holy Scriptures.

Our Church supports the efforts of the governments, spiritual and public leaders in various countries who have come out against the military operations and rejects the attempts to justify this war. We call upon the nations of the world to stop military preparations against Iraq, to prevent bloodshed of innocent people. We plead the God “to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Lk. 1:79) and to protect the biblical earth of Iraq against the fire of war.

Moscow, 17 March 2003,

Sviato-Danilov monastery

The celebration of the 700 th anniversary of the assumption of Saint Prince Daniel of Moscow

* * *

Russian Orthodox Church

Department for External Church Relations

Office of Communication

Press-release, March. 17, 2003

http://www.russian-orthodox-church.org.ru/ne303171.htm

Russian Orthodox Church

Department for External Church Relations

Office of Communication

22, Danilovsky val / St.Danilov monastery

113191 Moscow, Russia

Internet: http://www.russian-orthodox-church.org.ru

E-mail address: [email protected]

* * *

The following is an encyclical from His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco concerning the possibility of war with Iraq.

Make Peaceful the Nation in Times of War

Encyclical

To be read from the pulpit after the reading of the Gospel on Sunday, February 2, 2003.

To the Reverend Clergy, Monastics, Parish Councils, Philoptochos Societies, Choirs, Youth Organizations, and All the Faithful of the Metropolis of San Francisco:

Make peaceful the nation in times of war

–Kontakion of the Feast of Meeting

My Beloved Children in the Lord,

On this day, as we celebrate the Great Feast of the Meeting of our Lord or Hypapanti, commemorating the entrance of Christ into the Temple, His reception in the arms of the Righteous Symeon, and His proclamation by the Prophetess Anna, I am writing as the arch-shepherd of this sacred Metropolis to express my grave concern over the course of recent events in our country and our world. The central themes that emerge from the hymnography, iconography, and scriptural texts of today’s feast are dialogue, encounter and communion. At this critical juncture in our nation’s history, as our leaders contemplate military action against the country of Iraq, we must take care that we do not abandon these values, embarking instead upon a path of reckless unilateralism. Today’s feast calls us to recognize and embrace Christ as did Symeon and Anna, receiving Him in the person of our brothers and sisters. Every encounter with another human being has the potential to become a true “meeting of the Lord,” the possibility of recognizing in the face of another the profound depths of the image and likeness of God. It is therefore absolutely imperative that we uphold justice, human dignity, and human rights, principles upon which this country was founded, and not rush heedlessly into a conflict in which tens of thousands of people will lose their lives.

The timeliness and urgency of this issue is underscored by the kontakion of today’s feast, which implores God to “make peaceful the nation in times of war.” Indeed, the Church cannot but plead with God for peace and for an end to all war, violence, and enmity. For the heart of the Church is the maternal heart of the Mother of God, which, as Symeon prophesied, is pierced as by a sword with the sufferings of her Son (Lk. 2:35). Symeon’s prophecy continues to be fulfilled today, for Christ has given His mother to be the mother of us all (cf. Jn. 19:26-27), and her heart continues to be pierced by the affliction of her children. While war may at times become inevitable, the Church feels deeply the terrible toll of human suffering that war exacts, and must therefore prophetically call for peaceful and diplomatic means to resolution of conflict as long as such alternatives are available.

My beloved children in the Lord, our nation stands at the brink of a precipice, contemplating a decision to launch a preemptive strike upon another nation for the first time in its history. At this time, as compelling evidence that Iraq poses an imminent threat to the world has yet to be uncovered, there does not appear to be a clear moral imperative for war. The rationalizations being offered for a hasty military solution fall short of just cause, and give the impression that we are rushing to attack another nation simply because we can, and because it serves our own narrowly defined economic and national interests.

On this day, I summon the clergy and laity of our Metropolis to prayer for our nation and for the world. As the prophets say, if the watchman blows an uncertain note, the people will not be warned, and the watchman will be accountable for their lives (cf. Ezekiel 33:6). It is therefore my duty as your bishop and the shepherd of this spiritual flock to sound a clear note of warning in such a time as this. We must not countenance a rush to war before diplomatic avenues are exhausted. We must not tolerate the taking of innocent human life in a first strike without just cause. And on this Feast of Meeting, we must prophetically proclaim that there are more effective and more lasting ways of securing peace than through violence and aggression, which serve only to fortify the “dividing wall of hostility” (cf. Eph. 2:14) that separates us from one another, cutting us off from the possibility of dialogue, encounter, and communion.

With Paternal Love,

+Metropolitan Anthony of San Francisco

* * *

Statement of the Orthodox Bishops in Germany on the Iraq conflict

Dear brothers and sisters,

Four years ago, before and during the NATO mission in Yugoslavia, we urgently warned against the use of military force, which would not contribute to a real solution of the conflict but — on the contrary — only aggravate it and bring suffering, misery, mutilation and death to countless innocent people.

Events proved us right: in order to fight supposed or real injustice new injustice was tolerated, in fact only rendered possible through the war.

Now it looks as if a new war of immeasurable proportions is threatening our planet: an assault on Iraq. Of course, we do not overlook the fact that the regime in Iraq is partly responsible for the unfolding of the crisis.

Nevertheless we, together with the vast majority of Christian churches all over the world, are of the opinion that a war against Iraq conducted with “state-of-the-art” weaponry available to the United States will hit those people hardest who bear no responsibility for the escalation of the conflict, especially women and children.

Let us also not forget that a number of Orthodox and Oriental-Orthodox people are living in Iraq and are able to practice their faith. To them such a war would be in the literal sense existentially threatening.

For a number of years the Iraqi people have been suffering from the effects of a humanitarian catastrophe of enormous proportions and in the event of a war more immeasurable suffering and dying and an incalculable political future would lay ahead of them.

The consequences could not only be disastrous for Iraq but for the whole crisis-shocked region of the Middle East; again it must be feared that events following the war will foster inconceivable negative developments like an escalation of terror one supposedly wants to fight.

In this respect the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria Petros VII. recently wrote to the President of the United States of America, George W. Bush: “The Middle East is a sensitive area that is suffering a lot even now. This war would be considered an attack on Islam. And this impression, even if it was false, would have far-reaching and lasting consequences for the region, the faithful and their reputation. It is not in the nature of religion to delve into politics, terrorism and war.”

We wholly support this point of view: there is no justification for war as long as there is the slightest chance of another solution to controversial problems. This means also that the UN inspectors can fully complete their work.

Any preventive act of war started before even the smallest, seemingly hopeless chance of a peaceful settlement has been tried in vain must be condemned.

In our opinion these chances have not nearly been utilized. Especially international humanitarian action aimed at improving the lot of the Iraqi people, which would hopefully lead to new diplomatic initiatives in coming to an agreement with the Iraqi government. A war would definitively foil any such attempt.

We join all those calling for peace and urge those who have not yet done so to set a sign of peace and do all they can to spare humanity a new war whose consequences could be disastrous for us all.

We as the Orthodox Church in Germany call upon our faithful and their shepherds who – like all Orthodox — pray in each service for “the peace from above” to implore God Almighty to grant peace to the whole world and enlighten the leaders of all nations and all peoples to help build a world where humans no longer use violence against their brothers and sisters, a world that loves the God-given life and converges in justice and solidarity.

Dortmund, January 29th 2003

For the Ecumenical Patriarchate

Augoustinos, Metropolitan of Germany, Exarch of Central Europe

For the Russian Orthodox Church:

Longin , Archbishop of Klin, Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in Germany

For the Serbian Orthodox Church:

Konstantin , Bishop for Central Europe

For the Romanian Orthodox Church:

Serafim , Metropolitan of Germany and Central Europe

For the Bulgarian Orthodox Church:

Simeon , Metropolitan of Western and Central Europe

translation by Christiane Doering

The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece on the War in Iraq

The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, with a deep sense of its pastoral responsibility and an awareness of its obligations before God and its Christian pleroma, follows with concern and sadness, together with the People of God, the continuous threat of war, under which mankind lives.

This concern also covers the possibility of a wider outbreak of hostilities in the area, which will clearly have adverse consequences for our country.

The Church of Greece once again concludes that it is necessary that peace prevail in the life of all men. Peace is not an unseen good or an abstract condition, but the gift and fruit of the Holy Spirit. The Church continuously prays and labors that peace may prevail throughout the world. Of course its prevailing is dependent upon the prevailing of freedom and justice. It is inconceivable that peace can prevail in the life of mankind when totalitarian regimes oppress human beings or when elementary rules of justice are violated.

The Church of Greece also wishes to express her sympathy and her support to all those who, regardless of nationality, race or religion, find themselves tested and tried by war.

She congratulates all those who labor for the cause of peace and who struggle against violence, regardless of its origin. Certainly the Lord will bless their efforts, even when these do not evoke a response in the hearts of all.

She prays that our Lord, the Prince of Peace, will enlighten the political Leaders of this world so that in a spirit of discretion and peace they will exhaust all their efforts to find peaceful solutions through the existing competent global organs.

Athens, 4th February, 2003

http://www.ecclesia.gr/English/EnHolySynod/messages/iraq.html

From the Press Office of the Holy Synod.

* * *

Patriarch of Alexandria’s Appeal for Peace to President Bush

http://www.ecclesia.gr/English/news/jan9_dt2.html

Alexandria, 2nd January 2003

Ref. No. P.V./3

His Excellency President George G. Bush

President of the United States of America

The White House,

Washington D.C., USA

Your Excellency,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill toward men.” –Luke 2:14

From the historic city founded by Alexander the Great and where Christianity was preached by St. Mark the Apostle and Evangelist; from the land of the Nile river and a country which is a model and example of harmony between Christians and Muslims, I wish to make an earnest call to Your Excellency to avoid any attacks on Iraq. If Iraq is attacked, the negative consequences of such an attack would not only be felt by the peaceful land of Egypt but the whole world as well.

As the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria and All Africa, a Church that has existed for the last two thousand years, I call on Your Excellency to try and find a peaceful solution rather than that of war. The Middle East is a sensitive area that already is suffering greatly. Such a war would be seen as an attack against Islam. Such an impression, though false, would have unjust far-reaching and long lasting consequences upon religions, their faithful and their reputations. Religions, in essence, have nothing to do with politics, terrorism, and war.

From this holy place, I invite Your Excellency to offer up intense prayer to the Almighty God, who created us all, that peace may reign in the whole world. I also ask our Lord to enlighten all the leaders of all nations to work to build a world without violence, a world that loves life and grows in justice and solidarity.

May the New Year be a joyful, peaceful, graceful and blessed one for Your Excellency, the members of your beloved family, the people of the United States of America and the whole world.

With the love of our Incarnate Lord Jesus Christ,

+ Petros VII

Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa

In the Great City of Alexandria

January 2nd, 2003

* * *

Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate Warns Against War in Iraq

Moscow, Feb. 7, 2003 (Zenit.org) — The Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow announced an appeal from the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, calling for the cooperation of all those involved to overcome the crisis in Iraq.

Elijah II, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, made the following statement on Iraq, Feb. 4, in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital: “Cold peace is dominating in the world today, which in the future can turn into a serious threat for many thousands and millions of innocent people. The ongoing processes are obliging us to take a more responsible attitude to the present situation.”

“The Georgian Orthodox Church calls upon everyone who is able to influence the developments concerning Iraq, to show more patience and sense in order to avert the threat of war. A military conflict can cause an unpredictable chain reaction and endanger the peace,” he continues.

“The Georgian church urges all Orthodox Christians to pray for peace,” he concludes.

* * *

Iraq War Would Be a “Disgrace for Humanity,” Says Serbian Orthodox

Vatican City, Feb. 6, 2003 (Zenit.org).- A representative of the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate told John Paul II that a war against Iraq would be a “disgrace for humanity.”

The representative, Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro, is heading a delegation in Rome this week, to promote ecumenical rapprochement with the Catholic Church.

When the Orthodox metropolitan greeted the Holy Father today, he took advantage of the occasion to make an appeal for peace in Iraq.

“In the 20th century alone, our Church and our people were subjected to seven wars, and still today they suffer from profound wounds, especially in Kosovo,” Metropolitan Amfilohije said.

This is why the Serbian Orthodox Church, “together with His Holiness, requests the powerful of the earth, especially the United States and its allies, not to get involved in a new war, on this occasion against Iraq,” he added.

“This new war would be a new defeat for all of us and a new disgrace for the whole of humanity, and not just a humiliation and destruction of the honest Iraqi people,” he stressed.

The Serbian Orthodox Church has 9 million faithful spread over 32 dioceses worldwide, including four in North America, two in Western Europe, and two in Australia and New Zealand.

* * *

Letter from Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, to the President of the USA George Bush

2 January 2002

http://www.orthodoxeurope.org/europaica/000006.php#4

‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill toward men.’ (Luke 2:14)

From the historic city founded by Alexander the Great and where Christianity was preached by St. Mark the Apostle and Evangelist; from the land of the Nile river and a country which is a model and example of harmony between Christians and Muslims, I wish to make an earnest call to Your Excellency to avoid any attacks on Iraq. If Iraq is attacked, the negative consequences of such an attack would not only be felt by the peaceful land of Egypt but the whole world as well.

As the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria and All Africa, a Church that has existed for the last two thousand years, I call on Your Excellency to try and find a peaceful solution rather than that of war. The Middle East is a sensitive area that already is suffering greatly. Such a war would be seen as an attack against Islam. Such an impression, though false, would have unjust far reaching and long lasting consequences upon religions, their faithful and their reputations. Religions, in essence, have nothing to do with politics, terrorism, and war.

From this holy place, I invite Your Excellency to offer up intense prayer to the Almighty God, who created us all, that peace may reign in the whole world. I also ask our Lord to enlighten all the leaders of all nations to work to build a world without violence, a world that loves life and grows in justice and solidarity.

May the New Year be a joyful, peaceful, graceful and blessed one for Your Excellency, the members of your beloved family, the people of the United States of America and the whole world.

* * *

Patriarch Bartolomeos warns of worldwide catastrophe over new Gulf War

By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor

The Independent (UK) / 17 November 2002

Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch, has added his voice to the growing religious outcry against war with Iraq.

Bartholomew, who leads 360 million Christians worldwide, told The Independent on Sunday last week that there would be “catastrophic consequences” if the US and Britain attacked.

His intervention follows a strongly worded message from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, head of the Roman Catholic church in England and Wales, and fellow bishops saying that it was a “moral responsibility to avoid this war”.

Bishops of the Church of England have also declared that the conflict would not qualify as a “just war”, defined by religious tradition. Both George Carey and Rowan Williams, the old and the new Archbishops of Canterbury, have spoken out against the war, as have the Methodists, Baptists and Quakers.

Patriarch Bartholomew said he hoped that the peace movement would forestall an outbreak of hostilities.

“There is a greater awareness of the catastrophic consequences, and that is why there is so much reaction against the eventuality of a war in Iraq taking place,” he said.

“There is a general reaction in Europe, and in the United States itself, and I think that finally we will be able to avoid a new war with consequences — not only for the region but for the whole world — that we cannot foresee.”

Patriarch Bartholomew’s intervention is particularly significant as he lives and works on the interface between Christianity and Islam.

His headquarters are in Istanbul, and he has made dialogue with Islam one of his main priorities since succeeding to the ecumenical throne 11 years ago.

Dubbed the “green pope” owing to his interest in the environment, he is best known in Britain for a special jubilee celebration put on for the Queen by the Alliance of Religion and Conservation, started by the Duke of Edinburgh.

* * *

On Iraq

statement issued by Metropolitan Philip

Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

While our country is on the brink of war with Iraq, it is the opinion of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America that our esteemed President and governmental leaders rethink their position and the logic behind this impending conflict. Such an attack will destabilize the entire region, cause untold harm to countless children and other civilians as well as bring political and social unrest to an already troubled area of the world.

It is our conviction that all United Nations resolutions must be implemented in a consistent and meaningful way. We must add that we find it hypocritical that Iraq is threatened with war and destruction for failing to comply with UN resolutions while another state in the same region is in violation of about seventy UN resolutions which have never been implemented. This continues to be a reality even as this state occupies land that does not belong to it, illegally expands and builds settlements on occupied territories and implements collective punishment on masses of innocent people because of the distorted actions of a few. We are fully aware that Saddam Hussein and his government have committed atrocious acts which are in violation of international law.

We are gravely concerned, however, that a war against Iraq will create even more chaos in the region. The overthrowing of the Iraqi government could cause the breakup of the country into warring factions for many years to come. In addition, the geo-political imbalance this war would cause in the area will take generations to repair. It is said that our government will “rebuild Iraq and help the people of Iraq to form a democratic government.” History has proven that this rarely comes to fruition. We need only look to the Balkans and Afghanistan as recent examples.

Therefore, we beseech our respected leaders and representatives and all those of good will to allow the United Nations inspectors to complete their mission. At the same time, we encourage our President and Congress to seek the difficult and tiresome road of peace rather than the bloody and dark road of war.

Metropolitan PHILIP Saliba, Primate Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

9 October 2002

http://www.antiochian.org/news/Release20021009_Iraq.htm

* * *

Patriarch Alexis urges USA to cancel Iraq war plans

Patriarch Alexis of Moscow addressed an appeal in September urging the United States not to initiate a war against Iraq.

“We should look for a peaceful but not military settlement of the Iraqi issue. War will only incur more suffering on people,” the patriarch said during a meeting with Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek.

Alexis stressed that it was necessary to take every opportunity to find a political solution of the Iraqi issue. The 21st century “must be a century of creation and not the one of destruction and bloodshed.”

* * *

Church leaders oppose war with Iraq

Leaders of North American and British churches have urged their governments to halt a “rush to war” with Iraq. They called on their governments to exercise restraint in the face of demands for military action to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power. “We call upon our governments to pursue diplomatic means in active cooperation with the United Nations and to stop the apparent rush to war.”

The letter — released in September — was distributed by representatives of Orthodox, Protestant and Anglican churches and ecumenical organizations at a meeting in Geneva of the main governing body of the World Council of Churches.

The letter urges the two governments to work through the UN Security Council and to accept Saddam Hussein’s offer to resume UN weapons inspections.

The letter also condemned “threats to peace” posed by Iraq. The Iraqi government had a “duty to stop its internal repression” and “to abandon its efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction.”

But the letter stated that no evidence had been made public of an alleged build-up of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. This prevented the public from being able to make informed decisions about military action, the letter stated.

It accused the US and UK governments of “depriving the US Congress and the UK Parliament of the ability to make a considered judgement regarding the justification for war.”

The letter also expressed “alarm” about military action by an individual country without support from its allies or other nations, saying that this undermined respect for law.

The church leaders warned that war in Iraq could de-stabilize the region, pointing especially to the potential danger to Christians and other civilians living in the Middle East.

“Our knowledge of and links with church partners in the Middle East … make us very sensitive to the destabilizing potential of a war against Iraq for the whole region,” they said. They cautioned that war would harm Christian-Muslim relations, could result “in a direct military confrontation in Israel and strengthen the forces of extremism and terrorism.”

* * *

Orthodox Christians in Britain Urge Blair not to attack Iraq

Participants in an Orthodox retreat held in Dalmally, Scotland, in August, urged Prime Minister Blair not to join in a war against Iraq. The signers included Bishop Kallistos Ware, Orthodox scholar and author as well as member of the advisory board of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship.

“We, the undersigned members of the Orthodox Church in Britain, wish to add our support to the many pleas being made to you not to initiate war with Iraq. We hold no brief with Saddam Hussein. Indeed, it is clear that he has been responsible for the suffering of many people both in his own country and beyond. However, we believe there is no legal or moral basis to launch a war against another country simply on the grounds that it possesses weapons of mass destruction which might at some time in the future be used against us or our allies.

“If there is compelling evidence that, despite the testimony of former members of the UN inspection team, that Iraq is equipped and poised to use weapons of mass destruction, this evidence must be made public. Yet even were such evidence produced, it would not justify pre-emptive attack, such as Japan carried out against the United States in 1941.

“We are hopeful that the presence of UN weapon inspectors will be renewed in Iraq and that military sanctions can remain in place, though not a form of sanctions which has the effect of hugely increasing the mortality rate for the most vulnerable members of society: the children, the aged and the ill. It is estimated that more than half a million children have died in the past decade. According to Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary General and Humanitarian Aid Co-ordinator for Iraq, ‘We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple and terrifying as that. It is illegal and immoral.’ Halliday resigned in October 1998 in protest against the effect of sanctions as now applied.

“Eradicating the dangers posed by dictators and terrorists can be achieved only by tackling the root causes of the disputes themselves. Clearly one of the most pressing issues is the plight of the Palestinian people which fuels deepening animosity toward the allies of Israel while threatening the stability of several states in the Middle East. We appeal to you to do all in your power to end Israeli occupation and support the creation of a free and independent Palestine within secure borders so that Israelis and Palestinians will no longer be a danger to each other and their dispute no longer threaten world peace.

“We would agree with the recent letter signed by many senior clergy in Britain that it would be appropriate if those countries calling for the return of inspectors to Iraq were to open their own nuclear, chemical and bacteriological facilities to the same process of international inspection. Such an undertaking would demonstrate that we are willing to apply to ourselves the same standards we seek to apply to Iraq.

“An unprovoked attack on Iraq would bring shame on those countries who were a party to such an action. While Christ’s teaching that ‘all who draw the sword will die by the sword’ can be understood in a variety of ways, clearly it is no blessing to those who would initiate war.”

* * *

A response to the Iraq War from the Orthodox Peace Fellowship in North America

A Confession of Complicity in response to the war in Iraq issued by the Council of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship in North America

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

– Jesus Christ

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

– the Orthodox Christian Jesus Prayer

“Acquire the spirit of peace, and thousands around you will be saved.”

– St Seraphim of Sarov

Forgive us, Lord, for shedding each other’s blood, for You shed Your blood for all of us.

Forgive us, Lord for destroying life, for You came that we might have more abundant life.

Forgive us, Lord, for justifying destruction as if we were creating something good.

Forgive us, Lord, for seeking forgiveness, but failing to forgive.

Have mercy on us, Lord! Heal us and all Your world, and save us!