Church delegations speaking with European leaders about Iraq
2/19/2003 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York
NOTE: This report may be used as a sidebar to UMNS story #087.
By United Methodist News ServiceThe
Feb. 18 meeting at 10 Downing Street is the third such exchange about
Iraq between U.S. religious leaders and European politicians.
weeks earlier, members of a U.S. delegation joined their European and
Middle Eastern counterparts in Berlin at a meeting that included an
hour-long, closed-door session with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
The meeting, sponsored by the World Council of Churches, included three
United Methodist leaders: Bishop Walter Klaiber of Germany, James
Winkler, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and
Society, and the Rev. Robert Edgar, chief executive of the U.S. National
Council of Churches.
The Feb. 5 Berlin meeting resulted in a
statement opposing the use of war by the United States or other
countries "as an acceptable instrument of foreign policy" but also
calling upon Iraq to destroy any weapons of mass destruction and
cooperate fully with U.N. weapons inspectors.
On Feb. 10-11, a
five-member NCC delegation met with French church members to discuss
peaceful solutions to the Iraq crisis. The French Protestant Association
hosted the Paris meeting, and other participants included
representatives of the Council of Catholic Bishops of France and Rudiger
Noll, an executive with the Conference of European Churches.
the political front, the church leaders met with Hubert Colin de
Verdiere, general secretary of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has supported
President Bush's position regarding Iraq, was sought to make him aware
that many U.S. church leaders oppose a U.S.-led war against Iraq. Bishop
Melvin Talbert, ecumenical officer for the United Methodist Council of
Bishops, was among those who spoke with Blair. President Bush himself
has yet to agree to a request from church leaders for a meeting.
The National Council of Churches also intends to send delegations to Rome and Moscow.
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