The Churches of Jerusalem, Baghdad and Sarajevo Say "No" to War

February 24, 2003

"At this moment of international concern, we feel the urgent need to turn to the Lord to implore him for the great gift of peace."

We, pastors of the Christian Church in Jerusalem, Sarajevo and Iraq, assume as ours the enduring words of the Pope, and would like to unite our voice to his in requesting peace, the gift of God, sought by all men and women on earth.

Our voice is weak, yet we wish to continue to be the voice of our people who suffered and continue to suffer war, oppression and injustice, and who live on our land and who tragically became a symbol of suffering, not only in past years, but at present as well.

Our cities are not all holy cities such as Jerusalem, and even less so, catholic cities, but they certainly are cities of martyrs.

We, who lived and continue to live the tragedy of war, wish to say to the whole world, and in particular to the powers of the world: do not follow the path of war because it is a dead end.  Peace is the only course to follow and the only binding direction.

There exists no violence, no terrorism and no war that would not entail further violence, hatred, destruction, suffering and death.

Christ is our peace.  It is the Scripture of peace that should illuminate our hearts and steer our choice so that our choice would be a complete rebuttal of violence and of war.

We beseech all, believers or non-believers, men and women of good will, and especially those in office and those who hold the power to decide the future, to give predominance to logic and dialogue as they continue to recall that "war is an irrevocable adventure."  We also unite with the Pope in saying: "No to war! War is always a defeat for humanity."

If war is destruction and death, inevitably the consequences are no less tragic: divisions, hatred and swelling numbers of refugees. To the entire world, they are those millions of refugees from Bosnia and from all former Yugoslavia; the unbearable living conditions of Palestinians, refugees in their own land or in foreign lands. In case of war, how many more Iraqi refugees would have to be added to those who sought a new hope for life by relinquishing this land which is bleeding from both the war and the embargo imposed on it many years back?

We know that in every corner of the world prayer assemblies and expressions of civilian peaceful resistance to invoke peace are multiplying. This is reason for much hope, hope in God who always lends an ear to the prayers of the meek, the weak and defenseless.
Do not leave us alone because the world today needs to build up this hope.

February 24, 2003

Michel Sabbah Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
   President of Pax Christi International
Vinko Card. Puljic  Archbishop of Sarajevo
Raphael Bidawid  Patriarch of Babel for the Chaldeans in Iraq

Here is the news as the Italian Agency MISA published it.

NO to the War against Iraq
From the Churches of Jerusalem, Sarajevo and Baghdad

“We that have experienced and are still facing the tragedies of war, want to tell the entire world, in particular the worlds super powers: to not take the road towards war, because it is a dead end”. With these words the Patriarch of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah, the president of Pax Christi, Cardinal Vinko Puljic, Archbishop of Sarajevo and Raphael Bidawid, Patriarch of the Chaldean Church in Baghdad, launched their appeal for peace to the world.

“Ours is a weak voice, but we wish to be the voice of our people that has suffered and continues to suffer from the war, oppressions and injustice and which live in our countries, which not only in the past few years but also today, have tragically become a symbol of sufferance. Ours are not all Holy cities like Jerusalem and neither are they Catholic. But they are certainly martyr cities”. According to the spiritual guides of three communities that have been troubled in the past, and still today, by the violence of war, there is only one solution for the Iraqi issue. “Peace is the only path to travel on, it is an obligatory direction. There is no violence, there is no terrorism, there is no war that brings other violence, hate, destruction, sufferance and death”, declare the three religious leaders.

“We appeal to all, believers and non believers, men and woman of good will, but in particular to who has the responsibility and power to decide on the future, so that good sense and dialogue prevails, remembering that ‘war is an adventure with no return’. Together with the Pope we also say: No to war! War is always a defeat of mankind”, add the three religious leaders. But if the war is a cause of enormous sufferance, the wounds that remain open after the end of the conflict are also enormous. “If war is death and destruction – explain the Bishops – the consequences that a war carries are just as tragic: divisions, hate and many refugees. The refugees of Bosnia and of ex Yugoslavia can be seen by the entire world; the unlivable conditions of the Palestinians, refugees in their own land or in foreign territory. And, in the event of a war, how many refugees will there be from Iraq, that will be added to those that have already been forced to seek another possibility of life, fleeing from their land, tried by years of war and by the imposed embargo?”.

 “Do not leave us alone, because today’s world needs to build this hope”, conclude Michel Sabbah, Cardinal Vinko Puljic and Raphael Bidawid.