The Church of England has issued a prayer for use by parishes and congregations across Britain. This prayer, for the Iraqi people, will likely increase the distance between Church and state policy on Iraq.
The prayer is available on a Church of England website, as one selection under the theme of world peace. The prayer by Fleur Dorrell, entitled "For the Peoples of Iraq", opens with the entreaty:
"Lord, we pray fervently for the people of Iraq facing the horror of a full-scale war, and for those people who may be called upon to fight. Help us to persuade world leaders to continue negotiations."
David Hope, Archibishop of York, sent a letter to parishes one week before Christmas, saying: "In October the House of Bishops 'urged the British Government and the international community to pursue all available peaceful means towards resolving the crisis with Iraq' and 'that to undertake a preventative war against Iraq at this juncture would be to lower the threshold for war unacceptability'."
"I am writing to encourage parishes, congregations and individuals to pray for peace at Epiphany (January 6). This is an appropriate season in which so to focus our prayer," he added.
The prayer for the Iraqi people in full reads:
"Lord, we pray fervently for the people of Iraq facing the horror of a full-scale war,
and for those people who may be called upon to fight. Help us to persuade world leaders to continue negotiations.
Help all of us: individuals, nations, governments and world leaders to remember --
the unnecessary loss of life for millions of innocent people,
the scale of human suffering that war brings,
the right of Iraqi people to determine their own future,
the gross violations of human rights and crimes against humanity that are committed in the name of war,
nobody has total power over any country or its people but God alone.
Let us be open to God's words in our forthcoming decisions and try not to be God ourselves."
By Tony L.