Religious Leaders Urge Bush to Avoid War

AP, Nov. 30, 2002
Saturday, 30-Nov-2002 6:09PM   Story from AP

CHICAGO (AP) — In an unprecedented show of unity, Chicago’s top Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders have drafted a joint letter urging President Bush to avoid war with Iraq.

It is the first public statement on any national issue by the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago since the group was founded in 1984.

The letter was to be released Sunday at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. James. An advance copy obtained by the Chicago Tribune read, in part: “In the present situation, conditions justifying war have not been met. We still lack compelling evidence that Iraq is planning to launch an attack … We believe that there is ample time and latitude for pursuing alternatives that could avoid warfare, saving untold thousands of lives.”

Other religious groups also have voiced concerns about the possibility of war. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops acknowledged in September that Iraq posed a threat, but said it would be difficult to justify a pre-emptive attack under Catholic teachings on warfare.

Signers of the Chicago letter include Cardinal Francis George of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, Bishop William Persell of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, Rabbi Ira Youdovin of the Chicago Board of Rabbis, Metropolitan Iakovos of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Chicago, Bishop C. Joseph Sprague of the United Methodist Church and Kareem Irfan, chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.

Irfan acknowledged that many Muslims would have preferred stronger wording.

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