19 March 2004

Methodist President reflects on Madrid terror

The British Methodist Church shares the widespread revulsion at the March 11th bombings in Madrid, and unequivocally condemns them. Nothing can justify the destruction of innocent civilian lives, and the Church, by its prayers and practical help, wishes to identify with the victims of this atrocity, and their families.


Such an event makes our world seem more fragile and insecure. Though it is critical that we protect the people of Britain from further acts of terrorism by tightening security, there is another important step we must take: The Methodist Church urges Western political leaders, and the peoples of Western Europe and North America, to engage in some self-criticism.


The perpetrators of the Madrid bombings, and their particular motivations, have not yet been identified. But what is incontestable is that global terrorism, of which Spain is the most recent victim, is bred by injustice and deprivation. Western nations, therefore, need critically to examine their foreign policy.


A revised approach to the Israel-Palestine situation is urgently needed. Until equal pressure is exerted on both Israel and Palestine, and peaceful co-existence established, the Middle East will continue to generate and to export violence.


Also, we need to monitor what contemporary fears and conflicts are doing to us. Our increasing fear of terrorism must not be allowed to compromise Christian values. We cannot, nor ever will, defeat violence by violence.


The Methodist Church recognises that religion has become a key factor in international unrest, and our responsibility as Christians is to engage in the debate, bearing witness to the universal Creator who is all-loving and all-compassionate. It is this love and compassion which are the hallmarks of all authentic religious devotion.


Rev Dr Neil G Richardson

President of the Methodist Conference

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