Anglican Head Regrets Lack of Action against Iraq War

LONDON – The head of the worldwide Anglican Communion expressed regret over not doing more to oppose the Iraq war.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said that taking a stronger position before the invasion may have made a difference, according to BBC Radio 4's Today program. The Anglican leader recently returned from a visit to the Middle East, during which he criticized the U.K. government for placing Christians there at risk through its actions in Iraq.

On Friday, Williams repeated his criticism of the decision to go to war, calling it morally and practically flawed.

This put the lives of troops at risk, the archbishop said, although he had no doubt the government had acted in good faith.

When asked whether he could have done more to express his concerns, Williams said, "I can't easily balance for myself the pros and cons" of whether to put himself at the head of a popular movement resisting the war.

"I said what I believed I needed to say. I shall need to think quite a long time about whether I could have said more, or less for that matter," he went on.

Watching the events unfold in Iraq had been deeply disturbing for him, Williams said.

BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Piggott said the remarks showed that the archbishop felt a great responsibility as a moral leader to have intervened.