Bishops call for U.N. role in Iraq, decry violence
UMNS Photo by Rasul Welch
Methodist Bishop Peter D. Weaver, president of the denomination's
Council of Bishops and Bishop Ruediger R. Minor (right), Eurasia.
May 11, 2004
By United Methodist News Service
United Methodist Church's bishops are urging the U.S. government to
request help from the United Nations in establishing a transitional
government in Iraq.
a May 11 resolution, the Council of Bishops said it "laments the
continued warfare by the United States and coalition forces" in Iraq,
noting that the cycle of violence has led to the "denigration of human
dignity and gross violations of human rights of Iraqi prisoners of war."
The bishops say they pray for military personnel and their families, and ask that United Methodists pray for peace.
council also asks the U.S. government to "request that the United
Nations become involved in the transition process to a new Iraqi
government" and that a multinational development plan be started for
rebuilding Iraq and other Middle Eastern nations.
statement comes a few days after the April 27-May 7 General Conference,
the church's top legislative assembly and the only entity that speaks
for the entire denomination. A group of bishops had drafted a resolution
for the assembly to consider at its gathering in Pittsburgh, but the
resolution didn't have enough votes to get on the floor.
before adjourning shortly before midnight May 7, the General Conference
delegates did approve a resolution supporting calls for a full
investigation into the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners. The delegates
also urged that the prisoners be treated in accordance with the
international Geneva Convention. Reports and photographs of Iraqi
prisoners being abused by U.S. soldiers have caused an international
furor, particularly in the Middle East.
May 5, the National Council of Churches USA issued a statement
expressing sadness and indignation over the situation in Iraq. The NCC,
which includes the United Methodist Church among its members, said U.S.
actions have led to the alienation of many around the world. "It is time
the United States takes actions that befit its place among the
community of nations," the NCC said.
their statement, the United Methodist bishops said the "continuing loss
of Iraqi civilian lives, especially children, and the increasing death
toll among United States, coalition military and civilian personnel in
Iraq grieves the heart of God."
went on to note that "the premises advanced by the United States
government for engaging in this war - namely, the presumption of weapons
of mass destruction and the alleged connection between al-Qaida and
Iraq - have not been verified."
council includes 68 active bishops in Africa, Asia, Europe and the
United States. The bishops are the top clergy leaders of the 11.4
A full text of the council's statement follows:
Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church
Resolution on the War in Iraq
Whereas, the prophet Micah reminds us that God "shall judge between many peoples,
and shall arbitrate strong nations far away," and calls nations to
"beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning
hooks," that nations will no longer "lift up sword against nation, and
neither shall they learn war any more" (Micah 4:3); and
Whereas, The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church states that "we deplore war" and "urge peaceful settlement of all disputes" (Para. 164G, The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2000); and,
Whereas, the continuing loss of Iraqi civilian lives, especially children, and the increasing death toll among United States, coalition military and civilian personnel in Iraq grieves the heart of God; and,
Whereas, the premises advanced by the United States government for engaging in this war, namely, the presumption of weapons of mass destruction and alleged connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq have not been verified; and,
Whereas, the cycle of violence in which the United States is engaged has created a context for the denigration of human dignity and gross violations of human rights of Iraqi prisoners of war;
Therefore, The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church:
1. Laments the continued warfare by the United States and coalition forces.
Prays for military personnel and their families who have sacrificed as a
result of this war and for a swift end to the destruction and violence
raging in Iraq.
Asks the United States government to request that the United Nations
become involved in the transition process to a new Iraqi government.
Requests the United Nations to establish a legitimate transitional
government of Iraq to maintain the peace and safeguard sustainable
Calls for the rebuilding of Iraq and other nations in the Middle East
through a multinational development plan that honors the participation
of the peoples of the region and gives them hope for the future.
Invites United Methodists throughout the world to pray for a new era of
peace and to advocate for public policies that promote justice, life,
and reconciliation among adversaries.
News media can contact Tim Tanton at (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.