2003.01.29 Orthodox Bishops in Germany:
Statement of the Orthodox Bishops in Germany on the Iraq conflict
Jan. 29th 2003
Dear brothers and sisters,
Four years ago, before and during the NATO mission in
Yugoslavia, we urgently warned against the use of military force,
which would not contribute to a real solution of the conflict but --
on the contrary -- only aggravate it and bring suffering, misery,
mutilation and death to countless innocent people.
Events proved us right: in order to fight supposed or real injustice
new injustice was tolerated, in fact only rendered possible through
Now it looks as if a new war of immeasurable proportions is
threatening our planet: an assault on Iraq. Of course, we do not
overlook the fact that the regime in Iraq is partly responsible for the
unfolding of the crisis.
Nevertheless we, together with the vast majority of Christian
churches all over the world, are of the opinion that a war against
Iraq conducted with "state-of-the-art" weaponry available to the
United States will hit those people hardest who bear no
responsibility for the escalation of the conflict, especially women
Let us also not forget that a number of Orthodox and Oriental-Orthodox
people are living in Iraq and are able to practice their
faith. To them such a war would be in the literal sense existentially
For a number of years the Iraqi people have been suffering from the
effects of a humanitarian catastrophe of enormous proportions and
in the event of a war more immeasurable suffering and dying and
an incalculable political future would lay ahead of them.
The consequences could not only be disastrous for Iraq but for the
whole crisis-shocked region of the Middle East; again it must be
feared that events following the war will foster inconceivable
negative developments like an escalation of terror one supposedly
wants to fight.
In this respect the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria Petros VII.
recently wrote to the President of the United States of America,
George W. Bush: "The Middle East is a sensitive area that is
suffering a lot even now. This war would be considered an attack
on Islam. And this impression, even if it was false, would have
far-reaching and lasting consequences for the region, the faithful and
their reputation. It is not in the nature of religion to delve into
politics, terrorism and war."
We wholly support this point of view: there is no justification for
war as long as there is the slightest chance of another solution to
controversial problems. This means also that the UN inspectors can
fully complete their work.
Any preventive act of war started before even the smallest,
seemingly hopeless chance of a peaceful settlement has been tried
in vain must be condemned.
In our opinion these chances have not nearly been utilized.
Especially international humanitarian action aimed at improving
the lot of the Iraqi people, which would hopefully lead to new
diplomatic initiatives in coming to an agreement with the Iraqi
government. A war would definitively foil any such attempt.
We join all those calling for peace and urge those who have not yet
done so to set a sign of peace and do all they can to spare humanity
a new war whose consequences could be disastrous for us all.
We as the Orthodox Church in Germany call upon our faithful and
their shepherds who - like all Orthodox -- pray in each service for
"the peace from above" to implore God Almighty to grant peace to
the whole world and enlighten the leaders of all nations and all
peoples to help build a world where humans no longer use violence
against their brothers and sisters, a world that loves the God-given
life and converges in justice and solidarity.
Dortmund, Jan. 29th 2003
For the Ecumenical Patriarchate
Augoustinos, Metropolitan of Germany, Exarch of Central Europe
For the Russian Orthodox Church:
Longin, Archbishop of Klin, Representative of the Russian
Orthodox Church in Germany
For the Serbian Orthodox Church:
Konstantin, Bishop for Central Europe
For the Romanian Orthodox Church:
Serafim, Metropolitan of Germany and Central Europe
For the Bulgarian Orthodox Church:
Simeon, Metropolitan of Western and Central Europe