The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


A time of political and military conflict

The 40 days of Lent are always a time for solemn spiritual self-examination. This Lenten season has become a time of great uncertainty and anxiety now that the war with Iraq has begun. I pray that our Lord Jesus Christ will bless his church with the spiritual gifts we need to accomplish God’s mission of reconciliation and peace.

Permit me to share with you some of my thoughts in this time of political and military conflict. During the months before the war began, there was a vigorous discussion within our country and in our congregations regarding the justice and necessity of war with Iraq to accomplish the disarmament mandated by the United Nations. That debate will continue throughout this period of military conflict and for many months afterward. Together with my colleagues in the ELCA Conference of Bishops, I was opposed to the use of military force until all diplomatic and political means had been exhausted. Similarly, I continue to have serious reservations about the newly formulated doctrine of “preventive warfare,” and I am deeply concerned about the consequences this war will have for international relations and the fragile political situation in the Middle East. With the outbreak of war, however, we must be careful to invest at least as much passion in our care for one another and in our calling to be agents of reconciliation as we do in our moral deliberation.

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