World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Church leaders united against war in Iraq

20 February 2003

Joint letter from the World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches
to the WCC member churches in Europe and CEC member churches, 20 February, 2003

Dear Friends,

With this letter, we want to bring to your attention a declaration of "Church
leaders united against war in Iraq" which resulted from a meeting held in Berlin
on 5 February, 2003. The meeting was convened by the World Council of Churches
in consultation with the Conference of European Churches, the National Council
of Churches of Christ in the USA and the Middle East Council of Churches. The
first initiative for this meeting came from the Protestant Church in Germany
which also provided generous hospitality.

Enclosed with this letter you will find the full text of the statement as well as
the list of participants. Since the meeting was organized at very short notice and
the participants came in their personal capacity, the statement and the group of
participants can obviously not claim to be representative of the voice of the churches
in Europe and even less beyond. Nevertheless, the statement has elicited a very
broad and largely affirmative echo. It was made public on the occasion of a press
conference on 5 February in Berlin which was attended by an exceptionally large
cross-section of international electronic and print media. At the end of the day
on 5 February, members of the group had an opportunity to present the statement
to the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr Gerhard Schröder,
in his capacity as head of the government which, during this month, holds the
chair of the UN Security Council.

As you will see in reading the statement, the last paragraph ends with the sentence:

"We invite all churches to join us in this act of witness and to pray for and
encourage participation of all people in the struggle for a peaceful resolution of
this conflict." The sentence reflects the understanding of the participants that
with their witness they had taken a vicarious initiative and that they would welcome
leaders of other churches, particularly in Europe, who could not be personally
invited or were not able to participate, to make this statement their own and
thus lend additional support to this voice of Christian conscience.

We are writing this letter shortly after the weekend which saw millions of people
in all parts of the world demonstrate publicly their resistance against a military
solution of the conflict regarding Iraq. Supporting the search for a peaceful
solution to the conflict remains an urgent necessity. Therefore, we invite you to
consider whether you can express your support of this statement and to share your
response with us as soon as possible. Depending on the echo to our invitation, we
may be able to bring this common conviction of European church leaders to the
attention of the appropriate political authorities, in particular the members of the
UN Security Council.

Looking forward to hearing from you, and with kind regards,

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Rev. Dr Keith Clements, Conference of European
Churches General Secretary

Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, World Council of
Churches General Secretary