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EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 15 January, 2003, 14:33 GMT
Church leaders question ethics of war
Rev Malcolm Widdecombe, Anglican vicar
Rev Malcolm Widdecombe wants a swift outcome
The Church of England bishops' view that we should avoid going to war with Iraq, has filtered down through the lower ranks. The majority are sceptical about justification for war, although a few believe it may be a last resort. Here are some of their views


The Rev Steve Jarratt, vicar of St Matthew's Chapel Allerton in Leeds, has been in the parish 10 years and says he has not been persuaded so far by the arguments in favour of a conflict to remove Saddam Hussein.

He said: "Fundamentally I'm against it, I don't see a case for war.

"I'd rather see negotiations and the UN involved. I don't think it's right to go it alone with the US.

" There's no initial attack to respond to."


The Right Reverend Michael Langrish, of Exeter Cathedral, said: "I still see no moral justification for military intervention at this stage.

"The dividends of peace are greater than those of war, and so are worthy of time and resources devoted to seeking them.

There does come a point where conflict is unavoidable

Father Roger Miller, Walsall
"War claims lives and casualties. It brings in its wake disease, food shortages, impoverishment and the creation of refugees.

"Any desired military outcome needs to be able to morally justify these means."

He said the resources being pumped into the preparations for war could be better used tackling the huge inequalities between rich and poor in the world.

"If just some of the billions of dollars required to sustain military action for one day were deployed to address the needs of the hungry, debt-ridden and dispossessed - not least in the Middle East - it could go a long way to confronting many of the causes of discontent: the breeding grounds of terror and tyranny alike."


Father Roger Miller of St Michael's Church, in Walsall, West Midlands, said the inspectors had to be given more time.

"I think war is always best avoided.

"There does come a point where conflict is unavoidable and, if that is reached, then war should be carried out in accordance with the principles set out by the Church as long ago as the 13th century.

"But I think you've got to give the inspectors longer.

"With nuclear weapons the destruction caused has the potential to be so great that there could be a case for intervention."

He added: "I am not convinced that point has been reached."


Malcolm Widdecombe is the Anglican vicar of St Philip's and St Jacob's in Bristol and the brother of Conservative MP Anne Widdecombe.

He said: "The sooner Saddam is dealt with, the better. Then they can deal with Mugabe after that.

It is always right to talk and negotiate but there comes a time when you can't do that any more

Rev Malcolm Widdecombe, Bristol
"We didn't finish the job last time and we should have done, after what this ghastly man has done to the Kurds and to his own people.

"It is always right to talk and negotiate but there comes a time when you can't do that any more.

"What Christians have to do is pray for a quick and just outcome."


The Rev Phil Janvier of St Stephens Church, Gateacre, Liverpool said he was not a pacifist and recognised war was necessary against injustice, but was unsure it could be justified in this instance.

He said: "I don't think it's black and white. It's compromised by oil.

"I'm against war in principle, but recognise war is necessary against injustice.

"But whether this is injustice I don't know. I don't have the facts, but I don't believe we should go to war without the full backing of the UN.

"We have to show this is justice not revenge politics.

"I have to pray for Tony Blair and ask that God will give him wisdom. He has more facts than I do."


The Archdeacon of Lambeth, the Venerable Nick Baines, believes both the UK and the US must be guided by the UN.

He said: "It seems that Bush is going to have his war whatever. What is Iraq supposed to do?

"If Blair is going to follow Bush into this then I think there has to be a UN mandate to do it - a fresh one.

"I oppose war against Iraq unless UN inspectors come up with evidence or Bush produces evidence to say 'there is a real threat here'."


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24 Dec 02 | Middle East
20 Dec 02 | Middle East
23 Dec 02 | Middle East
24 Dec 02 | Middle East
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