March 20 marks the fifth anniversary of the war with Iraq – a war which has cost tens of thousands of lives, displaced millions and brought fear and destruction to all communities. In recent months, Christians will also be aware that the minority Christian community has borne its own share of this violence. The destruction of churches, the targeting of church personnel leading last week to the kidnap of Chaldean Archbishop Rahho of Mosul.
The Pax Christi and Fellowship of Reconciliation are calling on Christians throughout the country to make 19 March, the eve of the start of the war, a day of remembrance, repentance and prayer for the people of Iraq and the role that our nation has played in this war.
In London there will be a vigil at Downing Street between 5.00 – 6.30 pm on Wednesday 19th. During the vigil prayers will be shared and names of the dead will be read out in public. This will include the names of Iraq people as well as of US and UK military personnel who have been killed in this war. A number of similar public vigils will be held around the country, including Oxford, Coventry, North London and Kent and there will be times of prayer and reflection taking place as part of church- community commemorations on the same day.
Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi said: ” The vigil takes place in Holy Week when we remember Jesus’ path to the Cross – the betrayal, the torture, the abandonment – and so too we remember the people of Iraq and the years of suffering they have experienced through wars, sanctions and now occupation. We will be urging our Government to make reparation for the destruction we have caused and calling on all people of good will to join efforts to being stability and peace to Iraq.”