TORONTO, (February 19) -- Archbishop Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has issued a statement in which he says that military action against Iraq cannot lead to a more stable or peaceful Middle East. He urged church members to pray for "a just and peaceable outcome in this tense situation".
The text of the statement:
"Once again it appears possible that Canada may join with the United States in a punitive attack against Iraq.
"In similar circumstances seven years ago I issued a moral reflection on that action based upon the classic Christian criteria for determining the justifiability of a particular war, and judged by those criteria such aggressive intervention was not justified then.
"I believe that this judgment still stands in the present circumstances and I urge continued diplomatic efforts toward resolution.
"One of the traditional criteria requires that the use of force be proportional to the situation. The proposed military intervention arises from the Iraqi government's continued defiance of United Nations resolutions. Of course, the most satisfactory outcome would be compliance by the Iraqi government with the United Nations resolutions. However, South Africa's defiance during the apartheid years was met with sanctions, not force, and Israel's defiance of UN resolutions about the occupation of Palestinian territory has never been challenged.
"Another criterion calls for discrimination in the use of force, that is, the protection of non-combatants. No guarantees in this area have been offered, and the evidence suggests that Iraqi civilians and civil society will suffer. As well, the United States refuses to rule out the use of nuclear weapons, a gesture which raises yet another spectre.
"Another criterion calls for a reasonable chance of success. The 1991 war may have succeeded in a military sense but did not produce a more peaceful or more stable Middle East, nor did it end the Iraqi violations of the UN resolutions, and I believe the present action has no better prospects for long-term peaceful resolution.
"I appreciate that the Canadian contribution is minimal, but I am nonetheless gravely concerned that the lives of our military personnel are being put at risk in an unjustifiable action.
"I find it impossible to see how long-term peace building and the empowering of the Iraqi people to improve their own circumstances are being served by this exercise.
"I want to associate myself with the concerns expressed by the World Council of Churches in this regard, and to assure all involved, beginning with our military personnel and including all other potential victims, of my prayers for their safety.
"And finally, I urge members of the Anglican Church of Canada to continue in their prayers for a just and peaceable outcome in this tense situation".
Michael G. Peers, Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church of Canada
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Contact: Doug Tindal, Director of Information Resources: 416-924-9199 ext. 286; 905-335-8349 (residence) or Sam Carriere, Editor, Print Resources: 416-924-9199 ext. 256
TORONTO, January 17, 1991 -- The leader of Canada's 2.4 million Anglicans has rejected the notion that war in the Gulf is justified. In a statement released today Archbishop Michael Peers expresses "deep regret" over the conflict and the loss of life, and extends support to the families of Canadian forces' members.
While condemning Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait as "unacceptable and contemptible," Archbishop Peers says the Gulf does not meet the six criteria traditionally used to test for a just war. For example, a just war is carried out "discriminately," to minimize harm to non-combatants. But, "the resort to high level aerial bombardment is a tactic designed to minimise military casualties," he notes, "not those of non-combatants."
Archbishop Peers calls upon Prime Minister Mulroney "to show leadership in creating a role for Canada in building a new world order, one which settles disputes through diplomatic, economic and political means without recourse to the brutalities of war."
The complete text of the statement is attached.
WORSHIP FINDS HOPE DESPITE "DREADFUL PEOPLE DOING DREADFUL THINGS"
Earlier today, Archbishop Peers addressed a group of worshippers jammed into the church office's small chapel for the regular Thursday Eucharist.
"We have confronting each other two armed forces: one of them, the only armed forces to have used chemical weapons in the last 75 years; the other, dominated by the only armed forces to have used nuclear weapons. That speaks to the immensity of the conflict."
Archbishop Peers noted that today's scripture reading was taken from the "lectionary", an ecumenical schedule of readings adopted years in advance. "We gather in the midst of this to listen to the word of God -- because `the first casualty when war comes is truth.' The words we listen to are arbitrarily chosen by the Lectionary; but they are great words: `we are that household [of God], if only we are fearless and keep our hope high.' Now that's truth."
But Archbishop Peers distinguished between hope and optimism, "Optimism that the war will be short could mean only that a lot of people will die quickly, rather than slowly. This is not a day for optimism. But it is a day for hope, knowing that God is the founder of all. And God's purposes are not thwarted, even by dreadful people doing dreadful things."
STATEMENT BY ARCHBISHOP MICHAEL PEERS
It is with deep regret that I find our nation is today at war. The event so many of us had hoped could be avoided is now upon us. I grieve and mourn the loss of innocent civilian life in the last 12 hours in the streets and homes of Iraqi cities. I extend my support to the families of Canadian forces' members waiting anxiously now for news of their loved one's safety.
I ask all Anglicans, and I join with Canadian church leaders in asking all Canadians, to pray fervently for a quick end to the fighting, for the resumption of diplomatic initiatives by both Iraqi and United Nations authorities, and for the containment of this conflict within its present limits.
It is beyond dispute that Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, in flagrant violation of international law and with its foul atrocities against the Kuwaiti people, is unacceptable and contemptible. Nevertheless, the decision of the Canadian government to commit our forces to war and the call today from Canadian politicians to close ranks and support the war effort is deeply problematic. There are issues here upon which religious leaders have a duty to comment.
The Christian religion has a tradition of the just war. Normally, there are six tests applied to a conflict to determine whether violence is morally justified. They are:
- last resort after all other attempts to resolve the conflict
- right authority in the initiation of hostility
- right cause in the purpose of war
- proportionality in the use of force
- discrimination in the application of force (ie. protection of non-combatants)
- reasonable prospect of success
The commitment of United Nations forces to war last night does not, in my view, meet these tests.
- Military force cannot be said to be the option of last resort. South Africa has been in violation of UN resolutions for 40 years, Israel for 23 years, yet in these cases sanctions and negotiations are still being pursued.
- While the commitment of United States, British, and French forces have received the approval of their respective legislative assemblies, the Canadian Parliament has not given approval to the use of Canadian forces in combat roles.
- There is widespread public debate about exactly what cause is being pursued in this conflict. Is the cause the liberation of Kuwait? If so, it may be just. But is it a further attempt by Western powers, in continuance of a long tradition, to dominate Middle Eastern affairs and to subjugate Arab nations by coercion? The industrialised world, including Canada, has supplied weapons of war to the entire region, including Iraq, for its own political and material benefit. In his speech last night, President Bush failed to mention the one word which this war seems to be about - "oil." If the cause which is being pursued is the preservation of western lifestyles, then this war is not just.
- It is too early to judge whether the force that is being used is commensurate with the force that is being opposed. Certainly, the elimination of Iraqi chemical and nuclear capability is to be welcomed - though this would need to be extended to other nations in the region and in the world as well. But if, in view of early signs of minimal air resistance, the strength of Iraqi forces should prove to have been seriously overestimated by UN commanders, this will be a further indication of a lack of moral justification for the attack.
- Similarly, we have no assurance that there has been protection of the lives of innocent Iraqi civilians. The resort to high-level aerial bombardment is a tactic designed to minimise military casualties not those of non-combatants. The first commitment given by President Bush last night was to the safety of American lives. The total neglect of any mention of the protection of civilians is reprehensible. If the first casualty of war is truth, the early military-controlled news releases of low levels of ground casualties are difficult to believe.
- A reasonable prospect of success exists only if one's understanding of success is limited to the battlefield. This conflict has the potential to ignite the entire region in unimaginable devastation, to pit the Muslim world against the West for decades to come, and to unleash waves of violent and racist extremism throughout the world, not least in our own country. We have opened Pandora's box once again.
I conclude that this war in the Persian Gulf does not meet the tests provided by Christian tradition for a morally justifiable engagement at this stage. The Prime Minister has commented that Canadian participation in combat roles in this conflict is both reasonable and moral. I reject his sentiments and his reasoning.
I call upon him to show leadership in creating a role for Canada in building a new world order, one which settles disputes through diplomatic, economic and political means without recourse to the brutalities of war.
I call upon all Canadians of good will to pursue all efforts to bring about peace and the cessation of this destruction.
The Most Reverend Michael G. Peers, Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church of Canada
For more information contact: Doug Tindal, Director of Communications, Anglican Church of Canada, 600 Jarvis Street, Toronto, 416-924-9192; The Rev. Michael Ingham, Principal Secretary, Anglican Church of Canada, 600 Jarvis Street, Toronto, 416-924-9192.
TORONTO (30 March 1999) -- The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada has expressed horror at continuing ethnic strife in Yugoslavia, but says it is not clear that the armed intervention NATO began last week is an effective way to end atrocities.
In a statement released today, Archbishop Michael Peers says that although motivated by "high humanitarian ideals," the NATO action fails to meet several of the Christian criteria for a just war.
While ending ethnic strife in Yugoslavia is clearly the right thing to do, he said, there is serious question that "to use overwhelming military air power to end the military campaign in Kosovo is warranted".
The fact that the NATO action was initiated without debate by the UN Security Council, he added, clouds the issue of whether the air strike are based on legitimate authority. Similarly, Archbishop Peers noted, Canada's participation has not been debated adequately in Parliament.
The full text of the statement follows.
STATEMENT BY ARCHBISHOP MICHAEL PEERS
Primate, Anglican Church of Canada
This week, Holy Week, Christians prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. As we do so, we are reminded that the Christian message of reconciliation and renewal was born in events that reveal the capacity for human misunderstanding, conflict and violence. We therefore speak the Christian hope as something which can and must address these realities. For us, the recourse to violence always represents a moral failure, and a retreat away from the context where just and lasting solutions to our problems can be found.
It is from this basis that we express our concerns over the escalating conflict in the former Yugoslavia. We wish to express our horror at the continuing ethnic strife. Once again, we seem to be witnessing the use of "ethnic cleansing," and the targeting of civilian populations by military units in a campaign that has cost over 2000 lives and displaced 250,000 people. We cannot be indifferent to such atrocities, and the desire to actively contribute to an end to the conflict is commendable. However, it is by no means clear that the current NATO bombing campaign is an appropriate or helpful way of achieving this.
While Christians have historically rejected the use of violence in self defense, we have allowed for the use of violence in the defense of others provided certain conditions were met. These conditions have been described in what has been called "Just War" theory, more accurately referred to as the conditions for justifiable war. They include the conditions for initiating conflict (right cause, last resort, right authority, and a reasonable prospect of success) and the conditions that relate to our actions during the conflict (proportionality, discrimination between combatants and non-combatants). Clearly, the cause of ending the ethnic strife in Kosovo is just. It may also be true that diplomatic avenues have, for the time being, been exhausted. Still, it is our view that several of the conditions have not been met at this time.
One of the conditions is that the use of force be initiated by legitimate authority. The use of Canadian forces in the current NATO operations represents a movement beyond our pre-existing commitments to peace keeping in the region. It is not clear that parliament has been able to debate this expanded role in an adequate and informed way. Further, this action by NATO has bypassed the role of the UN's security council, that under the UN charter, has the primary responsibility in the area of international peace and security.
In order to judge that there is a reasonable prospect of success one must be clear in one's aims. The aim for Christians must be the restoration of a just and stable peace. At present the precise military objectives, and their relationship to the more essential political objectives remain unclear. The evidence from the ground does not appear to support the idea that this campaign has eased the lot of the ethnic Albanians from the Kosovo region. I believe it is unlikely to do so in the near future without the use of ground forces. This option has been ruled out by the United States, and is not currently contemplated by NATO. Further, experience with other campaigns, including that against Iraq, suggests that an air campaign may serve to strengthen the hand of Mr. Milosevic in the face of political opposition within Serbia. Finally, we must acknowledge the dangers inherent in becoming entangled in a complex political situation with roots going back several centuries in a way that exacerbates the underlying tensions that are the cause of the conflict. At least a part of our lack of effectiveness in this region, as in others, comes from the fact that we have failed to become adequately informed as to the underlying causes, or how those causes are shaped and amplified by centuries old ethnic and religious divisions in the region.
With regard to the question of proportionality, there is a serious question as to whether the decision to use overwhelming military air power to end the military campaign in Kosovo is warranted. Such strikes will also have to meet the test of discrimination. Is it possible to engage Serbian forces through air strikes alone in a way that minimizes civilian casualties ? Once again, there is evidence that the strikes may have exacerbated the situation on the ground for those in Kosovo, as well as having endangered the lives of civilians throughout Serbia.
I conclude that the NATO military action, even though motivated by high humanitarian ideals, fails to meet the tests provided in the Christian tradition, and widely accepted within our culture, for a morally justifiable military engagement. I call upon the government of Canada to engage its energies and imagination in the effort to bring the parties in the dispute back to the negotiating table.
I call upon members of the Anglican Church of Canada to pray for all engaged in this conflict at this time, including those members of our own armed forces whose lives are at risk, and their families. Recalling the long-standing friendship and deep affection between our communion and the Eastern Orthodox churches, I call especially for Anglicans to pray for our sisters and brothers of the Eastern Orthodox tradition who are put at risk by the actions of the Serbian Government and of NATO.
I call upon all Canadians of good will to pursue all efforts to bring an end to the current destruction and to support efforts towards a lasting peace for the region.
Signed Michael G. Peers
March 30, 1999
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Contact: Sam Carriere, Media Relations, (416) 924-9199 ext. 256 or Eric Beresford, Ethics Consultant (416) 924-9199 ext. 209
"In October , as more Canadian troops prepared for deployment to Iraq to join the combat mission against the militant Sunni group known as the Islamic State (ISIS), Archbishop Fred Hiltz urged Anglicans to pray for the people of Syria and Iraq and for the members of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families". "The statement followed a vote in Parliament on Oct. 7  to join a U.S.-led coalition in airstrikes against ISIS. The vote, which passed 157 to 134, was not uncontroversial". "The question of what to do in response to the violence of ISIS is a troubling one for many Canadians". Archbishop Hiltz "emphasized a pastoral response, saying 'While I am deeply aware of the significant debate among people of faith with respect to 'just war', it is not my intent at this moment to draw us into that but rather to call us to prayer'."
TORONTO, May 25, 1999 -- Archbishop Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, will co-moderate an extraordinary conference of church leaders from eastern and western Europe this week in Budapest on the churches' response to the Balkan crisis.
NATO's action in Kosovo has produced markedly different -- sometimes contradictory -- responses among world church leaders. Relations between the huge Orthodox churches and the rest of the world ecumenical community, already strained by theological differences, have been further stressed by the continued bombing. The Orthodox churches tend to be centred in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics. Their members are among those most likely to become targets of the bombing.
The multi-lingual Archbishop Peers, who recently completed a term on the World Council of Churches central committee, moves easily among all parties to the discussion. He is fluent in French, German and Russian, in addition to English. More significantly, he is perceived as an `honest broker' among the diverse and conflicting viewpoints.
Over the last two months, public opinion in the West has come to reflect more and more closely the views Archbishop Peers stated March 30  when the bombing began. Archbishop Peers expressed horror at the continuing ethnic strife in Yugoslavia, but said it was not clear that NATO's intervention would end the atrocities.
He said NATO action was motivated by 'high humanitarian ideals', but failed to meet several of the Christian criteria for a just war. While ending ethnic strife in Yugoslavia is clearly the right thing to do, he said, there is serious question that the use of overwhelming military air power to end to military campaign in Kosovo is the best means to that end.
This week's consultation will take place in Budapest, Hungary, May 26-27. It is jointly organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC) in cooperation with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Hungary.
Archbishop Peers' task, along with that of his co-moderator, Rev. George Tsetsis, head of the (Orthodox) Ecumenical Patriarchate delegation to the World Council of Churches, will be to help the conference participants find enough common understanding so that their churches can work together to promote peace in the region.
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Contact: Doug Tindal, Director of Information Resources, 416-924-9199 ext. 286; 905-335-8349 (residence) or Sam Carriere, Editor, Print Resources 416-924-9199 ext. 256
News Conference Thursday May 27
Following the consultation there will be a Press Conference at Hotel AGRO H-1121 Budapest, Normafa ut 54 on Thursday, 27 May, at 14:00 hours (8 a.m. EST) Tel: (+36-1) 375 4011 FAX (+36-1) 375 6164
Anglican Church of Canada
416-924-9199 Doug Tindal (extension 286) or residence 905-335-8349 Sam Carriere (extension 256)
World Council of Churches
North American contact: Philip E. Jenks, Communications Officer, US Office, 212-870-3193, WorldCoun@mail.wcc-coe.org
Elsewhere contact: Karin Achtelstetter, Media Relations Officer, Geneva Tel: (+41.22) 791.61.53 (See above for Karin Achtelstetter's phone number during the conference)
Release and full text of Archbishop Peers' statement on NATO bombing of Kosovo: http://www.anglican.ca/news/ans/ans.html?ansItem=1999-03-30_a.ans
Biography of Michael Peers: http://www.anglican.ca/welcome/peers.html
World Council of Churches' statements on the Balkans crisis: http://www.wcc-coe.org.wcc.kos.html
Participants at the consultations will include representatives of the following churches and councils:
Christian Council of Sweden
Christian Reformed Church in Yugoslavia
Church of England
Church of Greece
Church of Norway
Church of Scotland
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
Conference of European Churches, Church and Society
Coordinating Committee of Churches in Croatia
Ecumenical Council of Churches in Hungary
Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
Evangelical Church in Germany
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Yugoslavia
Lutheran Church in Hungary
Methodist Church in Yugoslavia
Methodist Church UK
National Council of Churches of Christ USA
Netherlands Council of Churches
Netherlands Reformed Church
Protestant Federation of France
Reformed Church in Hungary
Romanian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
Serbian Orthodox Church
Swiss Protestant Federation
United Methodist Church in Central and Southern Europe
Rev. Dr. Konrad Raiser, WCC general secretary
Rev. Dr. Keith Clements, CEC general secretary
Rev. Dr. Olli-Pekka Lassila, LWF Europe secretary
Mr. Alexander Belopopsky, Europe secretary, WCC Regional Relations
Ms. Elizabeth Ferris, consultant, WCC International Relations
Mr. Huibert van Beek, executive secretary, WCC Church and Ecumenical Relations
MONTREAL (May 29, 1998) -- In a nine-day meeting here, the Anglican Church of Canada's chief governing body approved legislation bringing the church closer to Lutherans, opposing euthanasia and cloning, and expressing the church's support to partner churches in several oppressed or war-torn countries.
The church also approved motions asking for government action on several social policy issues.
In the first meeting it has held in Montreal in 30 years, the 300-member General Synod also spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on "nation and identity" and on what it means to be a minority voice in a society as diverse as Canada's.
The theme of this General Synod, a body which meets every three years in a different part of the country, was "Lift every voice -- Faisons entendre nos voix" which was meant to help members focus on those who are often ignored or unheard.
In his opening address at the start of the synod, Archbishop Michael Peers, the primate, set the tone when he told delegates that one of the least heard voices in the Canadian Anglican church was that of French Canada. He challenged synod members to pay particular attention to that voice during the gathering.
Synod members spent a whole evening listening to panel members representing different voices or geographical parts of the country speak about what it means to be a part of the Canadian whole.
Synod members also heard a presentation from the church's indigenous members, a group that is working to implement a "Native Covenant" which would give it greater autonomy within the church.
Host bishop Andrew Hutchison of Montreal delivered a major address in which he expressed the difficulties involved in leading a church that represents a very small number of Anglophones in an overwhelmingly Francophone province.
In his speech, Bishop Hutchison also argued that while the church has no mandate to play a role in partisan politics, it is bound by conscience to take strong positions on matters involving principles such as peace, justice and reconciliation.
Synod members took him to heart, passing more than a dozen resolutions affirming the Canadian church's stand against oppression, injustice, violence and war in several parts of the world.
Through some of these resolutions, the Canadian Anglican church offered expressions of solidarity to partner churches and the people of Kenya, Sudan and Columbia [sic i.e. Colombia] who suffer from war or political oppression. Members voted to ask Ottawa to play a greater mediation role between Cuba and the United States.
Meeting the week that Pakistan exploded a number of nuclear devices in response to similar tests carried out by India, synod delegates called on the Canadian government to renounce the use of nuclear weapons and to exert pressure on other governments to do so as well.
They voted to ask the church's ecojustice committee to produce resources to enable Canadian congregations "to study the Just War theory and its implications for Christian response to war and militarism".
Members also called on the federal government to initiate a broad process of public consultation whenever it negotiates multilateral agreements on investment and trade and to consider the implications of such pacts, especially on the most disadvantaged members of society such as the elderly, the very young and indigenous peoples.
Members also voted to ask the Prime Minister to apologize to Inuit people displaced from traditional hunting areas on the east coast of Hudson Bay and Baffin Island to the High Arctic in the 1950s.
In the area of social policy, General Synod approved [a] resolution saying it cannot support euthanasia and assisted suicide. The resolution described such measures as "a failure of human community".
The church also called on Ottawa to prohibit the cloning of human beings.
The resolution with what may have the broadest impact for the Anglican community itself, was one commending for study a report urging "full communion" between Canadian Anglicans and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
Full communion would not be an actual merger of the two churches, but means that each would recognize the other's clergy, rites and sacraments. It could lead to extensive sharing of resources and even personnel between the two denominations. Reactions to that report will be gathered by both churches in the next three years and considered again when their respective governing bodies next meet in the year 2001.
One of the most arduous parts of the proceedings, held in a sweltering gymnasium at McGill University, was a debate on "human rights principles" for church members and employees that would have legislated protection from discrimination on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, family or marital status, race, colour, ethnic origin, ancestry, disability, creed and socio-economic status.
The often emotional debate on that resolution stretched over three days and the proposal was ultimately narrowly defeated after synod members failed to agree on a way to marry theological concerns to language more commonly associated with civil courts proceedings.
General Synod, which consists of bishops, clergy and lay people elected to the task in each of the church's 30 dioceses, meets every three years.
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Contact: Sam Carriere or Lorie Chortyk, General Synod News Room (514) 398-5192; Cell phones: (514) 953-7981 (Carriere) or (514) 953-8091 (Chortyk)
Preface signed by Maylanne Maybee and dated 20 September 2001.
Contents include: Workshops -- Handouts -- Resources for Personal Reflection -- Stories of Peacemaking -- Backgound Papers -- Worship Resources -- Sermon Notes -- Enclosures.
Stories of Peacemaking include: Landmines : A Canadian Chaplain's Perspective / Baxter Park -- Sword and Cross : The Project and the Trial.
Background papers include: Peace in our Time : Christian Reflections on Peace and Conflict / Eric Beresford -- Nuclear Weapons : The Ultimate Evil and Challenge / Phyllis Creighton.
Worship resources include: A Suggested Order for Remembrance Day -- A Litany for World Peace.
Kit also include copies of: The Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st century -- [Brochure on] 2001-2010 Decade to Overcome Violence -- The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist. -- [Poster from] Project Ploughshares Armed Conflicts Report 2000.
"The first chapter situates the issue of Just War in a broader historical and cultural context. Chapter two recounts the story of our nonviolent context. Chapter two recounts the story of our nonviolent witness: who (the three of us directly involved; the supporters; those affected by the action; and finally the trial witnesses); what (urging the mainline churches to take down a sword superimposed on a cross and turn it into a ploughshare as a public commitment to the renunciation of all war); plus the story's when, where, how, and why. The next chapter -- the heart of the book -- presents the trial: the accused, the witnesses and the judgement -- along with a stunning cloud of testimonies revealing some of the depth and breadth of love of enemy. The final chapter includes a very brief update; some reflections and conclusions; plus a major proposal to the mainline Christian denominations". -- Intro., p. xiii.
Contents: Dedication -- Foreword / Daniel Berrigan -- Thanks -- Introduction dated Toronto, May 2002 / Leonard Desroches -- Water breaking through: Before thee public witness: a context -- Cross and plowshare or cross and sword ?: The public witness -- A cloud of witnesses: The Trial -- Prison walls, church walls and freedom: Personal reflections on the aftermath.
The Rev. Don Heap, one of three defendants [with Bob Holmes and Leonard Desroches] in the trial, is a priest in the Anglican Church of Canada.