Photo Credit: Church in Wales
War may sometimes be necessary but it is a sign of human failure, the Archbishop of Wales said at a candlelit vigil service to commemorate the outbreak of the First World War this evening (Aug 4).
Dr Barry Morgan told the congregation at Llandaff Cathedral that we were called to be peace-makers and no conflict could be a good act.
The Archbishop was speaking at a commemorative service held jointly by the Welsh Government and Cardiff Council in the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. He said the service was about remembering sacrifice, not celebrating victory, and he urged people to strive for peace in their own relationships, the nation and the world.
Dr Morgan said, “War may sometimes be necessary but the Christian Church has never claimed that war and violence are good acts. To be involved in war is always to lapse from the God-given ideal of peace and reconciliation.
“If there is no other way except through war to establish justice, then it may be the right or necessary thing to do, as the lesser of two evils but such a choice necessarily involves one in sin. It is never a good act. It is only by a convoluted and tortuous process of reasoning that I can ever claim to be demonstrating God’s love towards my unjust neighbour by taking a gun and shooting him.
“That is why this service has a penitential section where we acknowledge our failures and shortcomings before God, since involvement in any war, for whatever reason, is a sign of human failure and in any conflict there can be no completely innocent party, even though one side may be more guilty than the other.”
While giving thanks for those who sacrificed their lives standing against oppression and injustice, we need to resolve to ensure war doesn’t happen again, the Archbishop said.
“Wars do not solve the deepest problems of human life. Not even the First World War resolved the issues that led to it for some of these conflicts still smoulder on in the Balkans and elsewhere. At best, they give us breathing spaces in which to build and work for a world in which war will seem an obscene irrelevance. That is why abstaining from conflict is never enough because more is needed. We are called to be peacemakers, for as Jesus said “peacemakers shall be called the sons and daughters of God.”
He added, “Our prayer tonight then might be that conscious of our past, and all that it entailed, we seek to live compassionately and caringly for the whole of humanity by striving for the things that make for peace in our own relationships, our own nation and indeed our world.”
During the service, a message of peace was read by two members of Urdd Gobaith Cymru’s Youth Forum. Wreaths were laid by the Duke of Goucester, the First Minister of Wales, the Lord Mayor of Cardiff and Wyn Calvin, a president of the Cardiff Central branch of the Royal British Legion. Saleem Kidwai, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Wales, laid an olive branch on behalf of the Interfaith Council for Wales.
At the end of the service, lights in the Cathedral were dimmed and a candle was lit by the Revd Albrecht Kostlin-Buurma of the German Lutheran Churches and people kept a period of silence.
Following a blessing by the Archbishop, the Last Post was sounded and the Cathedral bells tolled to mark the centenary of the outbreak of war.