Iraq War Dominates U.K. Easter Sermons

Apr 21, 2003 05:53 PM EDT

LONDON -- Iraq dominated the sermons delivered by Britain's Christian leaders on Easter Sunday, with one archbishop warning that Britain and the United States have much to do to improve the post-war situation.

The Archbishop of York, David Hope, called upon the coalition forces to put as much energy into reconstructing Iraq as they had to toppling Saddam Hussein's regime.

"Quite frankly, despite all the promises, given how things currently are in Kabul and Afghanistan, post-war does not bode well as to how things might be in Baghdad and Iraq," Hope told worshippers at York Minster in northern England.

"At least as much determination, commitment and resolution will be needed on the part of the coalition which pursued the war now to pursue the reconstruction," added Hope, the most senior member of the Church of England after Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Williams, the leader of the world's 70 million Anglicans, also talked of Iraq in his own sermon at Canterbury Cathedral. Williams said a desire to cling to traditional, comfortable ways of thinking had characterized the moral debate surrounding the conflict in Iraq.

"Some opponents of the war insisted that the motives of those in power must be personally corrupt, greedy, dishonest and bloodthirsty, as if the question could be settled simply by deciding on the wickedness of individuals," Williams said.

"Equally though, there have been defenders of the war who have accused its critics of being unable to tell good from evil, of colluding with monstrous cruelty and being indifferent to the suffering of nations."

Hope, who had supported the push for a second U.N. resolution during the buildup to the war, compared the significance of the Easter message of restoration following suffering and death to Iraq.

Establishing humanitarian aid in Iraq was the priority, Hope said, followed by "the regularization of an interim administration" and "restoration of a viable infrastructure."

The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, asked his congregation to pray for those directly affected by the war.

"Uppermost in my mind today are those who were caught up in fighting in Iraq, especially those, on both sides, who lost their lives or loved ones," said Murphy-O'Connor, the leader of Britain's five million Catholics, at Westminster Cathedral in London.

"We should pray now for the people of Iraq, whose terrible suffering in these past years must now give way to real hope for a better future guaranteed, at least in part, by the international community," he said.

By Albert H. Lee
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