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A just war?
The appalling scenes on TV and the spine-chilling stories of Kosovan refugees have melted the hearts of the British people.
The detestable enormities of Milosevic's soldiers and security forces, including massacre, rape, pillage and forced exile, have rightly aroused horror and anger. The good intentions of those favouring the use of force is beyond doubt. But is force morally justified? I think not.
A just war must be waged with competent authority. It must be a war of defence against an aggressor, with the probability of victory. The NATO campaign has none of these.
NATO launched attacks against Yugoslavia on its own initiative without the authority of the United Nations, the only competent authority to give it. Who authorised NATO to be the policeman of Europe? It authorised itself!
The UN was by-passed on the grounds that Russia and China would have vetoed the use of force. If we mistrust the UN, we should either attempt to reform it, or resign from it. To remain a member, and to ignore its authority, is hypocritical. NATO was formed as a defensive alliance. Since the end of the Cold War, it has been looking for a role. It is now an aggressor in the Russian sphere of interest. How would we have reacted if Belgium had joined the Warsaw Pact or if the Pact had intervened in Ulster on grounds of ethnic cleansing? No wonder Russians are worried. Why did NATO attack the Serbs? They would not agree to the Rambouillet Accords. Of course not: one appendix permitted NATO troops to be exempt from Serb laws! We were asking for military occupation.
A just war must be fought with the prospect of victory. This is most improbable without ground troops (forbidden by U.S. Congress - and anyhow from where could they be launched?). Our politicians, who have no experience of war, thought they could succeed by mass bombing from 15,000 feet including non-military targets. They failed. Bombing at lower levels has now begun, yet bombing alone has never won a war.
We said we were acting to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. In fact, we have helped to provoke one. Our aims change: they now include resettling the refugees in their home villages. Alas, war refugees have seldom returned to their native land.
Our involvement has made things worse, not better. Enormous sums are being spent on bombs and missiles. Damage to Serbian infra-structure is estimated at £29 bn. Rebuilding villages in Kosovo will be a vast undertaking.
This money would have been better spent on desperately needed humanitarian aid for Kosovan refugees. Immediate negotiation with Serbs is needed.
I am not a pacifist but we cannot police the world. We did not intervene in Sudan, Angola, Burma. Bosnia, Rwanda, Chechnia, East Timor or Eritrea. Why then in Serbia?
+ Hugh Montefiore
Arms and the Church
In March Arun Kataria attempted a political 'justification' for investing Church of England funds in firms that make weapons of war.
"Self-defence" is the excuse every government in history has made for waging war, and so-called 'peacemaking initiatives' is modern casuistry for using armed forces. NATO, formed as an anti-Soviet war alliance in 1949, eventually in 1955 provoked an opposing war alliance, the Warsaw Pact. When the latter dissolved itself in 1991, NATO sadly did not follow suit, but enlarged itself and is waging an undeclared war on Serbia.
Such investment ignores Christ's practice and teaching of unconditional love. The Sermon on the Mount tells us to love our enemies, not to prepare to wage war on them. Christ rejected Peter's defensive sword, saying, "Put up your sword, for they that take the sword shall perish by the sword", words which the Christian Father, Tertullian, said disarmed every Christian. For over 500 years, Christians died rather than serve in the Roman Army.
No other church in Britain invests in firms that make weapons of war. If the Church Commissioners took Christ's teaching seriously, they would, like other British churches invest ethically, in firms with no connections with manufacturing weapons of war.
With the boot on the other foot...
Our family have been walking the annual EUTP (formerly the Evangelical Urban Training Project, now, 'Unlock') Walk for 13 years.
We have encouraged at least 3 other groups from our former parishes whom we recognise and greet. But this year was different. Holy Trinity Church, Clapham Common, was not only chosen to be one of the check-in points, it was where the 'Unlock' presentation and display was to be held.
So we needed to be 'at home', checking in walkers and stamping their route maps. Members of our congregation also joined us throughout the day to greet the walkers and welcome them, especially to the coffee bar area where pairs of the congregation took one hour turns serving much needed drinks and home made food. Many visitors commented on the beautiful church and the welcome they received.
Numbers of walkers were down - by counting the stickers we estimated 860 this year. There used to be over 1,200 walkers - where have they all gone? We also kept a sort of 'register' to find out where walkers' home parishes were.
We counted well over 50 groups, the furthest from Peterborough, Northampton, Hastings, Portsmouth, Dorset, Yeovil and Winchester - at least 14 were from Essex alone!
The first checker-in was a railway chaplain from Peterborough who arrived at 8.30am having left home at 6.45am - no leaves on the rails obviously! Now that so many from Holy Trinity have seen and experienced something of the walk.
I hope that many more of our congregation will join us next year. The funds raised go towards supporting Christian trainers in inner city areas and housing estates working to share the Gospel in some of our most deprived and depressed neighbourhoods. The other good news is that a real difference is being made to the quality of leadership and ministry in those churches.
'Unlock' is providing a vital and important resource to inner city congregations. It really is a fun day out. So, please do think about joining us on 6 May 2000.
June 1 to 7 is National Volunteers Week.
I write on behalf of the Winged Fellowship Trust which urgently needs residential volunteers to spare a week helping people with physical disabilities and their carers enjoy a much needed break.
Volunteers must be over 16 years old and UK travel costs, accommodation and meals at the Centre are free. Older people are particularly welcome as their life skills and experience can really be utilised to the full.
No previous experience is needed - we provide full support and training. For more information please call me on 0115 9813881 day or evening.
It says in the Book
I wrote the following meditation recently for use with intercessions. Others are welcome to use it.
It says in the Book, do not kill,
Martin Harris Parry,
St Luke's Parish Profile
We are writing on behalf of St Luke's Church concerning the parish profile of us by Bryan Harris in last month's (April) edition of The Bridge.
When members read the article, the general view was that it was unprofessional in that it was patronizing, bordering on unconscious racism. We found the wording and tone of some parts of the profile offensive and we are surprised and worried by this.
We feel an apology would be appropriate, but we hope too for a change of heart. Racism, whether conscious or unconscious, is a sin and we most fervently desire repentance not resignation.
We would like this letter to be published in The Bridge and we hope we ask this in a spirit of love not malice.
J.A. Jelley, Vicar
The Editorial Board wishes to apologise for any
unintentional offence caused. It has been the custom, since the first edition of The
Bridge, to ensure that the incumbent or churchwardens (in the absence of the incumbent)
see the Profile before publication. An opportunity is then given for any changes to be
made so that they feel the Profile to be acceptable.