Press Release from the National Council of Churches USA
New York, September 11, 2006 – Five years after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, the horror of that day still stings the hearts of men and women of goodwill throughout the world, the general secretary of the National Council of Churches said today.
“Along with all Americans,” said the Rev. Bob Edgar, “as we think of the victims in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, on the airliners and the rescue teams, we believe that, despite the horror that marked their deaths, our loving God has granted them a place of peace, where the troubles and sorrows of this world can touch them no more.”
Edgar said: “We also pray that the families and friends they left behind will one day find divine healing and comfort.”
Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, NCC associate general secretary for International Affairs and Peace, also recalled the heroism of rescue teams, police and civilians that day. “In the midst of tragedy came an unprecedented wave of national unity,” he said.
Kireopoulos expressed concern that the nation’s early resolve to root out the sources of terror in Afghanistan and elsewhere has given way to the distractions of the war in Iraq.
“The United States government has offered a series of justifications for the war in Iraq, “including the need to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction, the desirability of planting a new democracy in the Middle East, and the need to destroy a major base for terrorism, all of which have been proved false or ill considered as events unfolded.”
The NCC point of view of this war in Iraq is informed by our belief that all war, though sometime used to overcome a greater evil, is contrary to the will of God, and an affront to God’s creation. If scripture is our guide, then we are called to seek peace (Matthew 5:9) and to turn our swords into plowshares
Kireopoulos called upon the U.S. to develop, by the end of the year, a plan for the phased withdrawal of American and coalition forces from Iraq. Such a plan should be linked to benchmarks for the rebuilding of Iraqi society, he said.
He also called for meaningful support of U.S. troops in Iraq. This would include providing soldiers with adequate armor to protect them from gunfire and explosive devices as well as giving earned benefits to veterans, especially injured veterans.
But the best way to support the troops is by “creating a withdrawal plan that brings their sacrifices to an end,” Kireopoulos said.
He called on the U.S. to commit the necessary resources to finding the actual perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, and bringing them to justice through internationally recognized judicial processes in the U.S.
Edgar also said the U.S. should not “contemplate another invasion, another war,” by confrontation with Iran as it seeks to develop a nuclear program.
On the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, “we must take a higher road, breaking cycles of violence and pursuing peace,” Edgar said. “In this way we will truly honor the memory of those who died on September 11, 2001.”