Church leader draws links from First World War to fighting in Gaza and Syria

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War must always represent the abject failure of humanity, the head of the Anglican church in Ireland said yesterday.

In a Belfast service marking Britain’s declaration of hostilities against Germany, the Archbishop of Armagh Dr Richard Clarke linked events 100 years ago to the suffering witnessed in Gaza and other trouble spots today.

Dr Clarke said: “War must always represent the abject failure of the human spirit and of humanity itself. It can never be other and we should never pretend it is other.”

He added: “Without being guilty of the worst kind of religious escapism, we cannot spiritually separate the violence, the carnage and the suffering of the innocent that is under our gaze today – whether in Gaza, in Israel, in Syria, in Ukraine or in Iraq – from our memorialising of the beginnings of the First World War.

“In the Great War we see heroism and cruelty standing side by side, we see cynical disillusionment and moral determination intertwining and we see hope and despair in equal measure and on every side.

“This was the first time that the weaponry of war could be fully industrialised and it was, also for the first time, that the phrase total war was coined to indicate that civilians were to be regarded as being as much part of the war as the military.”