Orthodox Church Again Calls on U.S. Not to Use Force Against Iraq

The Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchy, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine Vladimir has called on the United States and its allies not to use military force against Iraq.

The Metropolitan expressed concern over a possible large-scale conflict on behalf of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Moscow Patriarchy's Orthodox Encyclopaedia church scholarly centre said Tuesday.

A possible conflict will result in numerous casualties, a protracted global stand-off and even a war of civilisations, according to the Ukrainian church leader.

"Orthodox believers cannot remain indifferent and maintain aloofness from the pending catastrophe threatening all humanity," Metropolitan Vladimir said emphatically.

The Church qualifies war as evil and permits involvement in it only to defend the homeland and fellowmen, he said.

On the day before, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexis II forwarded letters to US President George W. Bush and British Premier Tony Blair calling them to avert war in Iraq.

"We are calling on the American government to be the mouthpiece of the American nation's will. Numerous religious and public leaders of the country have spoken out against a military campaign in Iraq," reads the letter.

The Russian Orthodox Church is concerned about the fact that hostilities in the region abounding in oil wells and other facilities may lead to a global environmental catastrophe. It may also aggravate developments in the Middle East and threaten peace and stability in the world at large.