Packard reminds staff that Episcopal chaplains involved in any war with Iraq

March 7, 2003

Bishop George Packard, in charge of the Episcopal Church's chaplaincies, reminded a 'community gathering' of staff at the Episcopal Church Center that the impending war with Iraq will involve not only Episcopal soldiers but a number of chaplains. He reported that there are seven Episcopal chaplains on regular assignment and 20 who have been activated, drawn into what he described as 'the vulnerability of war.'

On a recent visit to Camp Pendleton in California, he said that the parking lots were empty because of recent mobilizations. 'The Episcopal Church will go to war' because of the chaplains who will accompany the troops. Inviting his colleagues to light a candle in the chapel at the church center for all those who are facing the uncertainty and anxiety of war, Packard said that 'we are all bound together in this terrible moment of history' where no one knows what will happen.

Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold echoed Packard's remarks when he said that conversations he had with other Anglican primates at the recent enthronement of the new archbishop of Canterbury demonstrated a 'very deep concern on the effect of war in their various parts of the world.'

A church leader from Pakistan told Griswold that the Christian churches in his country are called 'Bush churches,' underscoring the potential danger of viewing a war in Iraq as one between Muslims and the Christian West. 'Seeing the siblings of Abraham--the Muslims, Christians and Jews--pitted against each other must deeply sadden God's heart,' Griswold told the staff.