Statement from the Presiding Bishop about the Situation in Iraq

December 18, 1998

In these December days, as Christians await the coming of the Prince of Peace, Hanukkah has just begun, and the season of Ramadan is days away, it is a tragic irony that the relationship between the United States and Iraq has deteriorated into military conflict once again in that part of the world called holy by Christians, Jews and Muslims.

The Iraqi government's refusal to cooperate with United Nations arms inspectors, and the U.S. decision to bomb Iraq, reminds us how far we are from a season of reconciliation and peace. Even so, I remain convinced that the shared visions of peace which our three traditions embrace show us the way to resolve international disputes.

I invite all persons of good will to join me in prayer for the men and women of our armed forces who are now engaged in this military conflict, and for the Iraqi people who have suffered so much through this conflict.

For the long view, I would call on our government and the United Nations to re-assess current policies with Iraq and to see what alternatives might better serve the cause of peace and end this long nightmare for millions of innocent Iraqis. The deaths of over half a million children from the effects of sanctions demonstrate a failure of moral leadership both in Iraq and by the international community. I will ask the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church to review the long, sad saga of war and sanctions and to assist the church in framing a more compassionate and just response.

As Jesus blessed the peacemakers, may we strive to be worthy of that blessing as peacemakers for these times.

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

Tagged in: Iraq Frank T. Griswold