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Welsh include Muslims in their call for peace

26 September 2014

Prime mover: the Bishop of Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron

Prime mover: the Bishop of Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron

THE Church in Wales's Governing Body has expressed its "profound dismay" at the deaths of innocent Palestinians, and the expulsion of Christians from Iraq by Islamic State.

After a debate at its meeting in Lampeter last week, the Governing Body extended a private member's motion that had originally been addressed only to Israel, urging it to "find ways to end threats to its security without the killing of innocents".

Its sponsor, the Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron, said that the absence of any call to Hamas or Islamic State was because he "found it extremely difficult to find anything sensible to say" to them.

"These are organisations which, sadly, are committed to terror," he said. "The Hamas charter says we don't want to hear anything from the 'Crusading Peoples of the West' about councils or reconciliation. They explicitly say that they will not listen to us. And I'm sure that Islamic State are not going to listen to anything that the Church in Wales says."

The Israeli Embassy in London did listen, he said. "The Church in Wales has a very tiny voice, but if we speak on this, we might be heard."

Denying that he was anti-Israel, he made a direct plea: "You are not a terrorist organisation. You are a democratic state, and we expect more of you because of that. Please, please, Israel, don't do it again."

And to "our friends and all people of peace" facing threats in Iraq and Syria, he said: "We stand with you. We will not forget you in our prayers, and we will not cease to bring your plight to the attention of our politicians."

The Governing Body agreed to an additional clause addressed to Islamic leaders, proposed by Dr Brian Willott (diocese of Monmouth). "It has been encouraging, recently, that some Islamic clerics have condemned the activities of Islamic State," he said. "It is appropriate for us as the Church to talk to other religious leaders."

Several speakers spoke of their visits to Gaza, and to the Church in Wales's dental clinic in the territory.

The amended motion was unanimously carried with five abstentions. It expressed the Governing Body's "profound dismay at the deaths of very many hundreds of innocent Palestinians, including more than 400 children, in Gaza, and the expulsion of the entire Christian population of Mosul, Iraq, over the summer". To the original call to Israel was added a call to the "spiritual leaders of Islam to confirm their support for communities of different religions to live together peacefully". The motion directs the Church's standing committee to find ways to promote its message.

Full report of Church in Wales's Governing Body meeting

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