A Response to the Bishop of Rochester


Recently Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester, (UK) and once touted for Archbishop of Canterbury, has claimed that "pre-emptive action [by the U.S. and Britain against Iraq] could be justified", presumably, since he is a bishop, on Christian principles. His remarks were written for the conservative evangelical Church of England Newspaper and reported in The Guardian on February 13, 2003. A shortened version of the following response appeared in The Guardian on February 15th..

Anglican Christians Respond

We are Anglican Christians from both sides of the Atlantic, with a concern for justice and peace. We have been encouraged by the hitherto sceptical stance many Anglican bishops have adopted towards the impending attack on Iraq. It is with sadness, then, that we learn of Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali's assertion that 'pre-emptive action could be justified' against Iraq. We wish to disassociate ourselves from the Bishop's stance, and are sure that we speak for many others in so doing.

Like other religious and humanist traditions, the Christian tradition has always contained both pacifist and 'just war' elements. Even within the 'just war' tradition, however, the burden-of-proof rests very much with those advocating military action in any situation. Classically, a variety of criteria have to be met for a war to be deemed 'just'. The situation with respect to Iraq is a long way from satisfying these criteria, and it is absolutely preposterous to claim that a 'pre-emptive' attack on Iraq could be justified in terms of them. The language of 'pre-emptive action' introduced by the Bush administration is both dangerous and immoral, and all people of good will should distance themselves from it.

We encourage people of all faiths and none to join together to campaign against the planned war in the crucial days and months ahead.

Yours Sincerely,

Revd. Simon Hewitt, Leigh Park, Hampshire.
Revd. Dr. Kenneth Leech, Community Theologian, St. Botolph's Aldgate, London.
Jennifer Sinclair. [Pittsburgh Pennsylvania]
Revd. Paul Butler, Rural Dean of East Lewisham and Vicar of Bellingham.
Revd. Ray Gaston, Vicar, All Hallows, Leeds.
Derek Jay. [Britsol, UK]
Dr. Ford Elms. [Newfoundland]
Ted Mellor, Los Angeles.
Revd. Canon Richard Gillet, Minister for Social Justice, Episcopal Diocese of L.A.
Revd. Andy Delmege, Brandwood, Birmingham.
Clare Horsman, Imperial College, London.
Revd. Michael Johnston, Kilkenny, Ireland.
Revd. Stephen Sichel, LONDON, SW2.
Revd. Brian Cole, Vicar, Church of the Advocate, North Carolina.

Other Signatures:

Revd. Grant Gallup, Nicaragua
Claudine Chionh, Melbourne, Australia
Mary Beasley, Birmingham [UK]
Halford Dace, South Africa
Revd. Kenneth M. Near, Rector St. Paul's Church, Englewood, New Jersey

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