World Council of Churches calls Iraq war 'immoral and unwise'

Christian leaders Friday condemned a possible war against Iraq as "immoral and unwise" and praised U.S. and British churches for standing up to politicians in their countries.

In a statement, the executive committee of the World Council of Churches said it "strongly deplores the fact that the most powerful nations of this world again regard war as an acceptable instrument of foreign policy."

The WCC represents 350 to 450 million Protestant, Orthodox and other non-Roman Catholic churches in more than 100 countries.

An attack on Iraq at this stage would "lower the threshold" for using violent means to solve international conflicts, the committee said.

"War against Iraq would be immoral, unwise, and in breach of the principles of the United Nations Charter," the executive committee said. It called for a day of prayer for peace in Iraq at the beginning of Lent March 5 in most Protestant churches and March 9 in the Orthodox tradition.

The committee said it is equally concerned about Iraqi violations of human rights and it called on Iraq to comply with U.S. Security Council resolutions.

Churches around the world, and especially in the United States and its allies, have called on the U.S. government to pull back from war in Iraq.

The National Council of Churches in the United States has requested a meeting with President George W. Bush, and a delegation from the U.S. council met earlier this week with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.).

The WCC executive praised the churches for their "courageous stance" in standing up to the political leaders in their countries.