Bishop attacks war in Iraq

SUFFOLK'S most senior cleric has fiercely criticised President George Bush's attitude over the Iraq war during a controversial speech to clergy.The Rt Revd Richard Lewis, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said he found it incredible that Bush could talk about terror as if it was something only others were responsible for.

By Danielle Nuttall

SUFFOLK'S most senior cleric has fiercely criticised President George Bush's attitude over the Iraq war during a controversial speech to clergy.

The Rt Revd Richard Lewis, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said he found it incredible that Bush could talk about terror as if it was something only others were responsible for.

He said: "We remember with deep regret that the vast majority of the casualties in this war so far have been non-combatants – the majority women and children.


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"In such circumstances it is incredible that President Bush can speak of terror as if it is something solely perpetrated by others.

"The initial American bombings of Iraq were designed to terrorise and the coalition has refused to count any casualties other than their own."

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Bishop Richard was speaking at a meeting of the Diocesan Synod in Woodbridge on Saturday in which clergy members voted to approve the church's budget for next year.

He told the delegates that the Iraq invasion represented a good example of the difference between power and authority.

"The coalition forces led by the Americans are able to exercise awesome power but in Iraq they have virtually no authority whatever," he said.

"Even after the election, it is doubtful how much authority has been given to President Bush in relation to Iraq even on his own home ground.

"The Iraqis on the other hand, even though it is impossible to speak of them as a single coherent group, have in common the fact that they have little or no power but they are subject to immense authority exercised in several different forms with its roots in Islam.

"This is something which the Americans do not appear to understand despite their dramatic defeat in Vietnam, where the same conditions existed.

"In that case, a pathetically ill equipped peasant army with zero military capability in conventional terms caused the militarily most powerful national on earth to flee for its life."

He added: "I am very sad indeed to see our own troops being drawn further into this conflict which is not of our making and nor is it under our control."

The meeting was held at Farlingaye High School in Woodbridge and saw clergy members back next year's budget of £6,837,429, which sees an increase of more than 3% in the church's expenditure.

Suffolk parishes are being asked to contribute £5,353,600 in parish share, which is an increase of almost 6%.

Michael Wilde, chairman of the Diocesan Board of Finance, told: "The message is perfectly clear. "Over 87% of the Church's total expenditure relates to work done in Suffolk's 450 parishes.

"Local ministry and mission in and through our parishes is our number one priority."

During the meeting, delegates were told of a major youth event being planned for Portman Road stadium in June next year.

Sue Young, world development adviser, also launched a campaign during the meeting aimed at ensuring Suffolk becomes a fair trade diocese.

She said: "In 2005, Britain will host the G8 summit and assume the presidency of the EU. There has never been a better time to campaign for trade justice."

A third of Suffolk's parishes must commit to using fair trade products like tea and coffee for it to be recognised as a fair trade diocese.

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