Statement on the initiation of bombing in Afghanistan
Issued by Mr Georges Lemopoulos, Acting General Secretary, Geneva, 8 October 2001.
The initiation of bombings and missile attacks against Afghanistan last night, while not unexpected, is nevertheless of profound concern to the World Council of Churches. As the churches joined in the ecumenical movement have done so often over the past century, they have again in recent weeks sought to avoid this renewed use of overwhelming military power. The WCC has reflected this consistent and widely held stance of the churches in a letter sent last week to UN secretary-general Kofi Annan by Dr Konrad Raiser, the general secretary of the WCC.
We abhor war. The first WCC assembly in 1948 called it a sin against God and humanity. We do not believe that war, particularly in today's highly technologized world, can ever be regarded as an effective response to the equally abhorrent sin of terrorism. Our experience of ministry to the victims of war convinces us that acts of war can never spare civilian populations despite all the precautions of military planners. Nor do we believe that war can be described as an act of humanitarianism or that the practice of war can be legitimately linked to the promise of humanitarian assistance.
We therefore pray that the United States of America and the United Kingdom will bring a prompt end to the present action, and that no other state join with them in it. We pray for those who live under the bombs and missiles, hoping against hope that they will be spared. We pray for the minority Christian churches and communities who are placed in danger as a result of such action: especially now for those in Pakistan who, despite their own poverty and small minority status, began planning last week to assist the present wave of Afghans fleeing from terror. We pray for the Muslim and other religious communities who despite President Bush's and Prime Minister Blair's affirmations to the contrary, are likely to consider themselves the targets of this and the other military actions foreseen to follow. We pray for the leaders of these and all nations that God will invest them with wisdom and compassion in this terrible time; that they turn away from the temptation of the sword and toward actions for global justice that provide the chief hope to overcome terrorism in all its forms and to provide true peace and security for the nations and peoples of our world.