BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 15 January, 2003, 09:54 GMT
Church leaders attack war plans
Marines training near the Iraqi border
Troop build-ups are continuing in the Middle East
Church of England bishops have made their most outspoken criticism yet of plans for military action against Iraq with one of them accusing the government of acting as judge, jury and executioner.

They repeated their view that an assault on Saddam Hussein would unacceptably lower the threshold for war and said it could not be morally justified.

Church leaders have been unanimous in their opposition to war in the Middle East.

There is absolutely nothing new now which would justify us going over the awesome threshold of war

Bishop of Oxford Richard Harris

The bishops have challenged beliefs that Iraq is linked with al-Qaeda or presents an immediate threat.

The Bishop of Birmingham Jon Sentamu said both British American governments showed their desire to act not only as investigators but judge, jury and executioner as well.

The Bishop of Oxford Richard Harries, speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme said a fresh UN resolution was absolutely essential if military action was to be morally justified.

'Danger and fantasy'

He said many bishops shared that view.

He said: "There is absolutely nothing new now which would justify us going over the awesome threshold of war, " he said.

This could have "unpredictable consequences" in the Middle East and an "almost certain" rise in terrorism across the world and in the UK.

He said believing that decisive military action could put things right was "a great danger and a fantasy", he added.

On Christmas Eve seven Iraqi children delivered giant Christmas cards signed by thousands of people to Prime Minister Tony Blair, urging him not to go to war.

The Church of England bishops call follows a similar statement from the Catholic bishops of England and Wales in November, calling for both sides to "step back from the brink" of war.

Concerns

They said that Britain had a moral responsibility to avoid war and called for sanctions against Iraq to be lifted as an incentive for Saddam Hussein's regime to improve.

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams used his Christmas address to make clear his deep unease about the potential conflict.

And Catholic leader, Cormac Murphy O'Connor has also expressed his concerns.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford
"A great danger in thinking some decisive military action will put everything right"
  The BBC's Robert Pigott
"The bishops could cause real harm to the government's efforts to sustain public support"
  Shadow Defence Secretary Bernard Jenkin
"The bishops are perfectly entitled to present the moral case"

Key stories

Analysis

CLICKABLE GUIDE

BBC WORLD SERVICE

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT
See also:

24 Dec 02 | Middle East
20 Dec 02 | Middle East
23 Dec 02 | Middle East
24 Dec 02 | Middle East
25 Dec 02 | Middle East
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes