14 December 2009
Responding to a report in today's Daily Telegraph (14th December 2009), based on an interview given in September 2009, the Rt Revd Dr Stephen Venner, Bishop to the Forces, has issued the following statement:
"The way that the Taliban are waging war in Afghanistan is evil, both in their use of indiscriminate killing and their terrorising of the civilian population. No religion could condone their actions. I give my full support to the British and Allied troops who are engaged in the country, seeking to work with the Afghan government to bring stability, democracy and an enduring peace.
"I acknowledge that long-lasting peace will not be achieved without both defeating the Taliban militants and, over time, by encouraging them to foresake the path of war and to be involved in the future of Afghanistan. Senior military and civilian leaders have expressed similar views and I support their position.
"We have also to distinguish between the militant Taliban, and those of their number who are fighting because they have been coerced into doing so and who fear for their lives if they do not. Clearly, it is only those who reject military action with whom we could talk."
Dr Venner carries out Episcopal duties within the UK's Armed Forces. including having pastoral oversight of Anglican Chaplains and the Anglican Church within the Forces.