I’ve had my disagreements with the Orthodox Peace Fellowship (OPF) in the past mostly over their stand that pacifism is a viable option in addressing conflicts between people and nations. Pacifism is a coherent and honorable moral position but only for the individual. It cannot be imposed involuntarily and succeeds only when the larger promise of protection by non-pacifists exists.
Nevertheless, with the continuing threat of military action by America in Syria (which today seems to be abating largely through the diplomatic sophistication of the Russians) which is clearly wrong-headed policy by any measure and especially threatens the Christians of the region, the OPF statement deserves support.
Orthodox Christian Statement Opposing Military Action Against Syria
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, oh God! Psalm 51:14
Dear members and friends of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship and all Orthodox Christians:
On August 21, 2013, a robust chemical weapons attack took place in Damascus, Syria, which US intelligence alleges was carried out by the Bashar Assad government and killed over 1400 civilians.
On August 30, 2013, President Obama asked the United States Congress to approve a limited, punitive military assault against Syria and the government of President Bashar Assad.
On September 3rd, President Obama declared that his goal is to degrade the Assad regime’s capabilities and to upgrade those of the opposition forces to help “set Syria free,” signaling escalatory intentions even before the first missile is launched and his readiness to interfere in the outcome of the civil war.
We agree that any use of chemical weapons is abhorrent and unreservedly condemn their use. However, while many pragmatic arguments against the contemplated military response are circulating, we ground our opposition to a military response, unilaterally or together with one or more international partners, on moral grounds consistent with Orthodox nonviolent, justifiable war, and pacifist traditions.
We urge you to consider our appeal alongside the unprecedented emerging coalition of Orthodox, Catholic, and other Christian jurisdictions and organizations calling on their faithful to oppose the contemplated US military action.
We urge our American members to contact your elected representatives in the House and Senate and ask them to vote no on any resolution authorizing such action, limited or otherwise.
We urge you to contact President Obama and urge him not to attack Syria.
We ask you to lend your signature to this statement adding your voice to our plea.
Note: If you disagree or do not feel you already have sufficient grounds for opposing the contemplated military attack, or if you simply want more information, please visit our website for a narrative foundation for our appeal, supporting material, an appended bibliography, and related resources: www.incommunion.org.
Jim Forest, OPF International Secretary
Alexander Patico, OPF North American Secretary
Pieter Dykhorst, OPF editor of In Communion
Archpriest Alexander F.C. Webster, Chaplain (Colonel) USAR (Ret.)
To sign this Statement, read the Supporting Narrative, or find more resources concerning Syria, please visit www.incommunion.org.