The Presiding Bishop's Statement on East Timor

September 14, 1999

The unfolding tragedy in East Timor is yet another sad and agonizing example of the human family's inability to live in harmony. So much divides us. The killing includes among its many victims the Reverend Francisco de Vasconcelos Ximenes, General Secretary of the Christian Church in East Timor, which is a partner of the Uniting Church in Australia. Please join me in prayer and take such action as your conscience dictates in response to this latest act of inhumanity. The Presiding Bishop's Fund will gratefully receive offerings for the relief of the Timorese people.

I have received a letter from the Anglican Primate of Australia asking me to urge US support and participation in a peacekeeping force. By way of this public comment, I join my voice, decisively so, to the call for our country and the international community to rush peacekeeping forces and aid into the midst of the genocide. I do so as I express gratitude to the Administration for its urgent attention to this matter. I personally heard our ambassador to the United Nations last week express his own agony over this latest crisis and he assured those of us present that his office as well as those at the White House and State Department were fully engaged. Action and commitment by our government and the international community cannot move swiftly enough.

There will need to be reflection on this latest episode of genocide and the ways it might have been prevented. Also, the call by Roman Catholic Bishop Belo of East Timor for a tribunal to punish those responsible should be supported. But for this moment, all attention must be on providing protection and relief for the citizens of East Timor.

I grieve for the loss of life and incredible suffering from this latest act of loathsome brutality even as I proclaim Jesus as Lord who offers us all another way that calls us to be one as he and the Father are One.

Sincerely yours,

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