Citing "the utmost urgency" of their request and "continuing uneasiness about the moral justification for war on Iraq," 46 U.S. religious leaders, including ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson, on Jan. 30 petitioned President Bush for a face-to-face meeting.
The leaders, from 11 denominations including 20 United Methodist bishops, told the president they were in contact on this issue with their clergy, lay leaders and church members nationwide as well as church leaders worldwide.
The letter said: "Because you are weighing the prospect of war on Iraq and all the terrible consequences that war involves, you will have faced firsthand the truth that war is not only — or even primarily — a military matter.
"It is a moral and ethnical matter of the highest order, one that we have made a priority for many months as the possibility of war has loomed on our national horizon."
The leaders said they had been working "to slow the rush to war," adding that "the tenets of our Christian faith" drew them to seek "a way toward peace that is both prophetic and practical."
Assuring the president and administration of their prayers, the leaders wrote: "What we ask now, as fellow believers and as the spiritual leaders of Americans in congregations in every community of our great nation, is a pastoral opportunity to bring this message to you in person."
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