|Council of Bishops calls for immediate Iraq withdrawal|
By Linda Green
Nov. 9, 2007 | LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS)
war "incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ," the
bishops of The United Methodist Church called on leaders of all nations
to begin an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
The bishops also urged against deploying additional troops to Iraq
and against establishing permanent military bases in the Middle Eastern
"This resolution is long overdue," said retired Bishop Clifton Ives before the Council of Bishops voted its approval on Nov. 9.
The action came during the council's semi-annual meeting at a United
Methodist retreat center in western North Carolina. The council
represents 11.5 million United Methodists in the United States, Africa,
Europe and the Philippines. About 125 active and retired bishops from
across the globe attended the Nov. 4-9 gathering.
In addition to calling for the immediate safe and full withdrawal of
troops, the bishops called on the United States and other Coalition
Force nations to initiate and support a plan for the reconstruction of
Iraq, giving strong priority to the humanitarian and social needs of the
Iraqi people. They urged increased support for veterans of the Iraq war
and all wars.
The bishops said their position is based on Jesus Christ’s call for "his followers to be peacemakers."
"Every day that the war continues, more
soldiers and innocent civilians are killed with no end in sight to the
violence, bloodshed and carnage."
–Council of Bishops resolution
is the council's latest action questioning the Iraq war. In November
2005, the bishops urged U.S. President George W. Bush, who is United
Methodist, to create a timeline to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.
Casualties of war
Before the latest vote, the council wrestled with turning the
resolution from having a U.S.-centric focus into one with global
emphasis to care for all people impacted by the war.
The bishops cited the deaths of more than 3,843 U.S. soldiers, 171
members of the United Kingdom military, 132 members of other Coalition
military, the wounding of 28,385 U.S soldiers and the deaths of at least
76,241 Iraqi civilians. They noted the war has displaced 2 million
people and made refugees of 1 million others.
"Every day that the war continues, more soldiers and innocent
civilians are killed with no end in sight to the violence, bloodshed and
carnage," the resolution says.
The bishops called on United Methodists throughout the world to pray
for peace; hold regular prayer vigils for congregations and communities;
and care for all impacted by the war, including honoring the dead,
healing the wounded and calling for an end to the war.
The council discussed the resolution over the course of two days before approving a final version on Nov. 9.
Retired Bishop Jack Meadors, of Edisto Beach, S.C., noted that 2007
has been the deadliest year for the U.S. military since the Iraq war
began in 2003. He predicted the 4,000th American combat death will occur between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
"The Iraq war is not just a political issue or a military issue. It is a moral issue."
–Bishop Jack Meadors
"The Iraq war is not just a political issue or a military issue. It
is a moral issue," Meadors said. "War is sin. It is evil. War is
incompatible with the teachings of Jesus."
Calling the resolution "a faith-based statement," Meadors said
Christians must be "peacemakers that we might be known as children of
Bishop James Swanson of the Holston (Tenn.-Va.-Ga.) Conference said
President Bush's intentions for entering the war may have been noble but
that the results have been deadly.
"We as bishops are concerned about the loss of lives and any
resulting effect once the war ends and the troops are removed," Swanson
said. He added that, once the troops leave, "the church needs to be
about helping the Iraqi people rebuild their lives."
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in
Nashville, Tenn. Stephen Drachler, media consultant for the Council of
Bishops, contributed to this report.
News media contact: Linda Green, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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