The Conference receives the Statement* from the Bishops of the Province of West Africa with deep thankfulness for the Christian spirit of compassion and reconciliation that informs it. It has been deeply distressed by the prolonged conflict which has divided the peoples of Nigeria and of the former Eastern Region, and which has brought, even in the days in which the Conference has been meeting, death through starvation and disease to so many innocent men, women, and children.
With the West African bishops, we call, in the words of the Fourth Assembly of the World Council of Churches held recently at Uppsala, for "all governments to work effectively towards peace and reconciliation, and to refrain from any action which would prolong the conflict in the area."
The Conference welcomes any agreement between the belligerent parties to provide channels for the supply of food, medicine, and clothing to those in need. It calls on governments to engage in a massive inter-governmental relief operation on both sides of the conflict, and commends the work of the Division of Inter-Church Aid, Refugee and World Service of the World Council of Churches and of other voluntary agencies in meeting immediate and longer-term needs.
The Conference assures its fellow Christians on both sides of the conflict of continuing fellowship with them in the Gospel. They may be sure of the prayers of the bishops and Churches of the Anglican Communion and of all possible support, as in Christ's name they minister to the suffering and work for reconciliation and peace among all their people.
*Statement from the Bishops of the Province of West Africa The Bishops of the Province of West Africa desire to give thanks to Almighty God for the prayers, the sympathy, and the work for reconciliation which have supported us and enabled us to endure these fourteen months of civil war. We are especially grateful to His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury for his message sent to us when war broke out, for his initiative in the visits of fraternal delegations to the churches on both sides, and for his persistent work for peace. We were heartened by the joint appeal for peace made in March by the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches, calling for "an immediate cessation of armed hostilities and for the establishment of a lasting peace by honourable negotiation in the highest African tradition." We are grateful to the Commonwealth Secretariat and to the Organization of African Unity for the efforts they have made and are continuing to make to bring the two sides together. We also desire to record our deep gratitude to the voluntary agencies and to our fellow Christians in all parts of the world who have contributed by their generous gifts, their prayers, and their concern to alleviate the sufferings of our war-saddened peoples.
Yet the war still goes on. We are deeply grieved and feel bound to acknowledge in penitence our ineffective witness to the compassion and mercy and reconciling love of Christ. In our failure we seek the sympathetic aid of the Lambeth Conference as follows:
(1) To call, in the words of the Resolution of the Uppsala World Council meeting, for "all governments to work effectively towards peace and reconciliation, and to refrain from any action which would prolong the conflict in the area."
(2) To call on the government of both sides in the war to look with pity on those who are sick and starving and to give every facility to the organisations which are endeavouring to bring them food and medical supplies.
(3) To consider offering, in co-operation with other Churches, a further delegation to visit the leaders on both sides to promote the work of reconciliation so powerfully put before us in the Archbishop of East Africa's sermon.
Finally, we state our belief that the conflict can be resolved positively in a creative way only when each side is prepared to abandon exclusive positions and to seek to reach agreement on how to secure the vital interests of the peoples of both sides.