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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 26 December, 2002, 12:25 GMT
Archbishop's anti-war message
Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
Dr Rowan Williams leads the Anglican Church
The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has used his Christmas message to urge the government to pull back from the brink of war.

Former Archbishop of Wales Dr Williams, who officially became head of the Anglican Church this month, used his Christmas message to attack the Government over its readiness to launch a military attack on Iraq.

It is as if the wise, the devious and the resourced can't help but make the most immense mistakes of all

Dr Rowan Williams

He warned world leaders that even "wise men" could "wreak havoc and suffering".

Dr Williams likened "strategists" to the Three Wise Men who told King Herod about the birth of Jesus on their way to Bethlehem, prompting a massacre of children.

"It is as if the wise, the devious and the resourced can't help but make the most immense mistakes of all," he said.

'Suffering'

"The strategists who know the possible ramifications of politics miss the huge and obvious things and wreak yet more havoc and suffering."

Despite better communications, intelligence and surveillance than ever before, the innocent continue to be killed, he said.

"Here we all are, tangled in the same net ... stepping deeper and deeper into tragedy", he added.

Dr Williams has previously warned against the dangers of war and urged the government to find a diplomatic solution.

On the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks he described war as "at best the lesser evil" and added that attacking Saddam Hussein could bring "real cost to our own humanity".

Military

He said that suicide bombers and the military methods of the US and Britain have qualities in common.

On BBC Radio Four's Thought for the Day, on Boxing Day, he said: "The terrorist, the suicide bomber, is someone who's got to the point where they can only see from a distance: the sort of distance from which you can't see a face, meet the eyes of someone, hear who they are, imagine who and what they love.

"All violence works with that sort of distance, it depends on not seeing certain things."

He added: "With the high-tech military methods we've got used to in recent years, there's a greater temptation to take for granted the view from a distance.

"And this means we should see the military option as something to be considered a lot further down the road than it would have been 50 years ago."

Dr Williams, 52, became Archbishop of Wales in 2000, before this year becoming the first person to be appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury from outside the Church of England in modern times.


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02 Dec 02 | Wales
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