Ministers draft peace statement

by Judith Phillips | 3/28/03 6:00am

Editor's note: This is the first in a set of articles that will examine perspectives on the Iraq conflict of specific segments of the Dartmouth community.

The United Campus Ministers of Dartmouth recently drafted a pro-peace statement in anticipation of a war against Iraq in conjunction with the Tucker Foundation. The United Campus Ministry, which comprises leaders of the College's various religious organizations, blitzed the statement to various secular organizations and College officials when the war began.

In the statement, they emphasize their desire for "peace and justice," as well as their perception of the war as representing a "moral crisis."

According to Richard Crocker, Chaplain of the College, the statement "attempts to note the moral seriousness that arises whenever people go to war."

Crocker specified that this seriousness involves "the loss of lives of our own fellow countrymen and people from other countries." He added that "everyone would agree that war is a moral crisis."

Aquinas House Chaplain Brendan Buckley noted that although the statement refers to war as a moral crisis, its signatories did not intend to offend anyone who might hold a divergent opinion.

"My hope would be that any student reading it would feel that we're not challenging any opinion but praying for peace," he said.

When asked under what conditions would he be willing to support a war, Crocker responded that he believes "personally that violence almost always leads to an increase of violence and that there are ways in which we need to struggle to settle differences without violence."

Crocker contended that diplomacy "would have been a more productive approach in the long run in producing a more peaceful, secure world."

Crocker said that he has received a number of individual responses in gratitude for sending out the statement, and has not yet encountered any opposition to it.

Buckley "didn't see the statement as taking a stand on the war per se."

He said that he and other Aquinas House chaplains signed the statement in an effort to enable students to take an "informed stance" on the subject of war.

Aquinas House has made additional efforts to inform students about the war, including inviting Professor James Murphy of the government department to speak with students.

Buckley said that opinions of student members of the Aquinas House run the gamut from those "very active in the 'Why War' movement on campus to those very supportive of Bush and his policy."

He added that only a few students have come to him individually to discuss the war.

Since the 20th of March, the day the war began, the United Campus Ministers have held 30 minute prayer sessions in Rollins Chapel that are open to all members of the community.

The format of the sessions differ according to which minister leads the service, but each session's main theme is the quest for peace.

Crocker noted that the attendance at the sessions has been "fairly small."

Both Crocker and Buckley said that the prayer sessions are also intended as forums in which attendees can express their opinions.

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