A letter from the House of Bishops to Congress

October 2, 2002

October 2, 2002

Dear Members of Congress:

The following is a letter written to you from the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church on October 1 during our fall meeting in Cleveland, Ohio. It is my hope that you will receive this letter in the spirit in which it is offered.

Also included for your information is a listing of all bishops of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Yours sincerely,

The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate

As you begin this critical debate on behalf of the citizens of this country over the resolution to authorize military action against Iraq, we, the bishops of The Episcopal Church, USA, meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, want you to know of our prayers and support as you make this difficult decision, not just for our country, but also for the people of Iraq and the peace of the world. We pray, as well, for members of the armed services and their families in the midst of international crisis and possible military action.

We deeply respect the seriousness of your responsibility to protect the lives of our citizens, and, with you, we condemn the brutality of Saddam Hussein and his regime.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we abhor violence and war. Our faith requires us to strive always for justice and peace. We believe that restraint and the ongoing commitment to international cooperation are the means toward peace that we all desire.

With you, we recognize the possibility that war is sometimes unavoidable, but we do not believe that war with Iraq can be justified at this time.

  • Iraq has not attacked the United States.
  • Our nation has not exhausted all possibilities for a peaceful solution to this potential conflict, including a new vigorous arms inspection regime.
  • Our nation has not sufficiently garnered world support.
  • It is highly likely that the consequences of a war with Iraq will not be contained within its borders.
  • We believe a pre-emptive strike against Iraq, with the overwhelming force such a strike may require to attain an expedient victory, may have many unintended consequences, including unacceptable civilian casualties.

Further, in this instance, we do not support a decision to go to war without clear and convincing evidence of the need for us to defend ourselves against an imminent attack. The wisdom of our own Christian faith, as well as other religious traditions, teaches us to demonstrate the greatest prudence and caution when the lethal force of war is contemplated. We believe that writings on Just War are particularly helpful to our nation's ongoing deliberations. As we search for those responsible for the attacks of September 11, we must encourage such discernment that keeps our society civilized and free.

We stand with other Christian leaders who oppose a pre-emptive strike against Iraq. The leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church of the USA, the Orthodox Church in America, The Christian Church (The Disciples of Christ), The United Church of Christ, The African Methodist Episcopal Church, The Anglican Consultative Council, representing 70 million Anglicans around the world, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, have all raised questions about the wisdom and morality of our country's pursuing this course of action.

Over the next weeks, as you debate our possible involvement in a war against Iraq, know that we are praying with you and for you.

The House of Bishops
The Episcopal Church
Cleveland, Ohio October 1, 2002

The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold
XXV Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA

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