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Friday, 15 November, 2002, 10:30 GMT
Church leader warns against Iraq war
Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor
Cardinal Murphy O'Connor wants an end to sanctions
The international community has a "moral responsibility" to avoid war with Iraq, the Catholic Church has warned.

The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, said "The need to avoid war is a cornerstone of Christian teaching."

He said military action was only acceptable in the face of a grave and imminent threat and when "there is no other means to achieve the just end of disarming Iraq".

Cardinal Murphy O'Connor also called for an end to sanctions against Saddam Hussein's regime and for Iraq to be offered a "positive incentive" to comply with United Nations Security Council demands.

'Civilians will die'

Speaking at the end of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales in Leeds, Cardinal Murphy O'Connor said war was a last resort, from which there was "no return".

"The UK and the US are currently preparing to send their armed forces into war.

"If there is war, as well as military casualties on both sides thousands of Iraqi civilians will die."

The conference urged leaders of the international community to look for alternatives to war.

'Decade of misery'

The need to search for ways to forge closer ties with the Iraqi regime was highlighted.

This could be achieved in return for genuine disarmament, monitored and verified by the United Nations and the lifting of comprehensive sanctions, Cardinal Murphy O'Connor said.

"Sanctions have not worked", he argued.

"They have imposed a decade of misery on ordinary people whilst allowing an exploitative regime to sustain itself in power."

Cardinal Murphy O'Connor said it would be "agonising" to see anyone killed in an armed conflict which could have been avoided.

"We pray that both sides step back from the brink of war," he said.

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Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor
"The lifting of sanctions is something that serves the common good"

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06 Aug 02 | Politics
06 Aug 02 | Politics
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