Posted by andreas from dtm2-t8-1.mcbone.net (220.127.116.11) on Saturday, February 22, 2003 at 6:26AM :
No war can be holy warns the archbishop ...
The Archbishop of Canterbury says the leaders should lay off "heavy artillery of a religious kind" in their speeches
Stephen Bates, religious affairs correspondent
Saturday February 22, 2003
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, yesterday warned Tony Blair and President Bush to tone down their moral rhetoric in the drive to war with Iraq.
The archbishop, who this week issued a joint statement with Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor doubting the moral basis for a war, told his first press conference at Lambeth Palace that the leaders should lay off "heavy artillery of a religious kind" in their speeches.
Both President Bush with his "axis of evil" soundbites and the prime minister in his recent campaign to provide a moral justification for the conflict have become increasingly messianic in tone as they strive to persuade sceptical electorates, he said."There is no war that is holy and good in itself and to bring the heavy artillery of a religious kind, to say that is the only way of resisting evil, is something that has to be watched out for."
Dr Williams insisted that other alternatives to war, including the maintenance of a UN presence in Iraq, had to be explored before military intervention. He refused to commit himself to supporting a war even with a second resolution.
"I think Christians generally would hold that unless other means of resolution had been exhausted, it would be hard to justify any pre-emptive [military] action. It does not look as if we have exhausted all the possibilities yet," he said.
Dr Williams is to be enthroned as 104th archbishop at Canterbury Cathedral next Thursday as the final stage of his appointment which began last July with the announcement that he had been chosen to succeed Dr George Carey.
Dr Williams said he was in regular contact with the prime minister but declined to give details of discussions between them. He knows he leads a church largely united in its opposition to war, in a wider religious community sharing similar views.
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