SCOBA Hierarchs Issue Statement on War in Iraq

April 2, 2003

NEW YORK, NY - We, the hierarchs of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas are compelled by our spiritual obligation as peacemakers, to express the anguish in our hearts that, once again, due to the presence of sin and evil in the world, nations and people of faith have been unable to avoid a dreadful confrontation.

As heads of Orthodox Christian communities in North America we are compelled to call our pious clergy and faithful to pray for peace and for respect of the sanctity of all human persons.

We ask our churches to open their doors during this season of the Great Lent for people to enter, light a candle, and pray for peace and reconciliation among nations.

We exhort our faithful to pray for all the people who live in areas of conflict, for the innocent women, children and elderly who live in places of high risk and harm, for those in flight, for refugees throughout the region who join others on a journey of profound uncertainty.

We pray for the security and well-being of our military personnel, for advisors and diplomats, and for families at home, who must live in fear for the safety of their loved ones.

We pray for our President and all civil authorities, for their discernment and divine guidance during this difficult time.

This tragic war, combined with the threat to security at home, has created enormous fear and anxiety throughout the world. Only the Prince of Peace, who said "My peace I give to you" (Lk 14:27), can allay this fear and anxiety.

Please know, dearly beloved that our humanitarian aid agency, the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), has already prepared itself to address the tremendous needs that will confront the world in the days ahead. This response will include the distribution of "survival packs" to persons fleeing Iraq, provisions of medical assistance to ill or disabled refugees in Jordan, and the distribution of humanitarian relief within Iraq. We urge you to help IOCC in this massive philanthropic effort.

May the peace and love of God be with all of you.

With paternal love and blessings,

+Archbishop DEMETRIOS, Chairman Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

+Metropolitan PHILIP, Vice Chairman Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdioceseof North America

+Metropolitan CHRISTOPHER, Secretary Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada

+Metropolitan NICHOLAS of Amissos, Treasurer Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the USA

+ Bishop ILIA of Philomelion
Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America

+Metropolitan HERMAN Orthodox Church in America

+Metropolitan NICOLAE
Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America and Canada

+Metropolitan JOSEPH
Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church

+Metropolitan CONSTANTINE
Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA