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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 20, 2003
8:20 AM
CONTACT:   Churches for Middle East Peace
Jim Wetekam, 202-543-4150, jim@cmep.org


U.S. Church Leaders Issue Statement on Iraq War
 
WASHINGTON - March 20 - On behalf of Churches for Middle East Peace, the following statement was issued by Fr. Stan DeBoe, chair, and Corinne Whitlatch, director. The full text follows:

Churches for Middle East Peace deeply regrets the decision by the United States and other nations to begin military action against Iraq. We are concerned about the injury and loss of life of U.S. personnel who have been deployed to the region and of the Iraqi people who once again suffer the devastating effects of war.

In the midst of these horrific events, our prayers are with our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. Mindful of God's will for peace and justice on earth, we pledge our efforts to work actively for peace and to urge the U.S. government to:

-- bring hostilities to a swift end, -- take measures to protect civilians and non-combatants, -- abide by the Geneva Conventions and international law in the conduct of war and in its aftermath, -- support efforts to alleviate the humanitarian crisis that will result from the war, -- support multilateral measures under the leadership of the United Nations to rebuild Iraq and protect the Iraqi people, -- bolster regional arms control measures following the war, and -- provide concrete and immediate leadership to the process of establishing a viable Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel.

We pray that the leaders of our nation and the nations of the world will have compassion and wisdom. We join the members of our churches in praying for the safety of United States servicemen and women and for the safety of the people of Iraq. We call upon members of our churches to act in a manner consistent with their faith and conscience to foster peace in the Middle East.

As a people of faith, we believe that God calls us to paths of peace rooted in mercy and justice. In the midst of conflict, violence, and death, we will not stray from that path. Instead, we recommit ourselves to God's vision of peace and will strive to build a world of greater understanding, compassion and care, until we can live without the threat of war and all people can live in peace.

Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace is a Washington-based program of the American Friends Service Committee, Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men's Institutes, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of the Brethren, Church World Service, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Franciscan Mission Service, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Maryknoll Missioners, Mennonite Central Committee, National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church. For further information, see http://www.cmep.org.

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