The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has expressed unwillingness to conduct a thanksgiving service for the end of the war in Iraq, fearing it might appear to bless the conflict.
Dr Williams has told friends he is reluctant to take part in a national service which might appear triumphalist, but has told No 10 he would like to preach at a memorial service.
There have been thanksgiving services after major wars during the last century which have also remembered the dead.
Friends of Dr Williams - who took an anti-war stance in the run-up to the war - said he would feel awkward taking part in a service which might go against his beliefs, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The Ministry of Defense has been looking to arrange a memorial event that celebrates the military's role in the liberation of Iraq without the triumphalism of the Falklands celebrations in 1983.
Downing Street has been especially anxious to avoid any kind of victory parade in which Tony Blair appears as the central figure taking a salute from the troops. Lady Thatcher was criticized when the Queen was not involved in the celebration commemorating the recapture of the Falklands. The monarchy has been conspicuously silent over the British role in Iraq.
Traditionally the Church has been involved in any such military ceremony but ministers recognize that leading Church figures could not be involved in any celebration.
However, ministers were also pointing out that if the Church wanted to distance itself from major state ceremonies they were also in the long term signing their own death warrant as the established Church.
Some cabinet figures believe the disestablishment of the church is desirable and inevitable in the long term.
Ministers have also been anxious that any ceremony should not appear to exclude British Muslim communities.
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003