Skip to comments.Episcopalian leader lashes out at Bush for 'reprehensible' policy (the world right to loathe us)
Posted on 01/14/2003 10:04:43 AM PST by Incorrigible
Tuesday, January 14, 2003
BY KEVIN ECKSTROM
RELIGION NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON -- The top bishop of the Episcopal Church, in a stinging rebuke of American foreign policy, said the United States is rightly "hated and loathed" around the world for its "reprehensible" rhetoric and blind eye toward poverty and suffering.
"I'd like to be able to go somewhere in the world and not have to apologize for being from the United States," Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold 3rd said Friday in an interview with Religion News Service.
Griswold, head of the 2.3million-member church, blasted the Bush administration for its wartime rhetoric, especially labeling Iran, Iraq and North Korea an "axis of evil."
"Quite apart from the bombs we drop, words are weapons and we have used our language so unwisely, so intemperately, so thoughtlessly ... that I'm not surprised we are hated and loathed everywhere I go," he said.
The increasing likelihood of a U.S.-led attack on Iraq also drew strong criticism yesterday from Pope John Paul II, who argued that military force should be used only as "the very last option" -- and then only under certain conditions.
Amid a buildup of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, John Paul urged political leaders to step up their diplomatic efforts to avoid war, which he said would only harm ordinary Iraqis "already sorely tried" by 12 years of U.N. sanctions.
"War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity," the pope told Vatican-based diplomats in his annual speech on issues of concern to the Roman Catholic Church.
"As the charter of the United Nations organization and international law itself remind us, war cannot be decided upon, even when it is a matter of ensuring the common good, except as the very last option and in accordance with very strict conditions, without ignoring the consequences for the civilian population both during and after the military operations."
It was the pope's strongest message yet in opposition to war, and it was the first time since the crisis erupted that he has publicly mentioned Iraq by name.
Griswold has spoken early and often against war with Iraq, arguing, along many other religious leaders, that a pre-emptive strike against Saddam Hussein fails to meet the necessary criteria for a just war.
Griswold conceded that religious opposition to the war has failed to resonate at the White House, especially "if indeed everyone is praying and invoking God here and there as they struggle to make these decisions."
He said Bush is "inviting" trouble from the other points on the "axis of evil" -- Iran and North Korea -- with his bellicose rhetoric, although Griswold said the president is "hardly dealing with paragons of virtue" in either case.
Bush has consulted with religious leaders, including Griswold, throughout his term but generally has enjoyed cozier relations with evangelical Protestants, who tend to be more supportive of the president's domestic and foreign policy.
White House spokeswoman Mercy Viana said the president is committed to humanitarian aid in Afghanistan and North Korea and working with the United Nations to disarm Iraq.
"Our national security depends on success in the war on terrorism, which includes military, judicial, diplomatic, financial and humanitarian actions, both at home and abroad," she said. "Our goal is to protect the American people and shape a future of peace."
While he has tried to avoid "shouting and screaming," the 65-year-old prelate has stepped up his verbal tempo in pointed rebukes of how the United States treats the rest of the world, particularly with its money.
Speaking Sunday at the Washington National Cathedral to mark his fifth anniversary as presiding bishop, Griswold said American reluctance to spend more on AIDS in Africa is "a manifestation of evil" and a "form of sin from which we as a nation are called to repent."
Griswold said the AIDS pandemic poses a far graver security threat to the United States by spawning a generation of orphans who live in abject poverty in fragile African democracies.
"We are loathed, and I think the world has every right to loathe us, because they see us as greedy, self-interested and almost totally unconcerned about poverty, disease and suffering," he said.
In a follow-up conversation, Griswold softened his criticisms, putting them in more nuanced terms. He said the "last thing" he wants to do is demonize either the president or the larger government.
"My sense is that we have been so abundantly blessed as a nation that it's all the more incumbent upon us that we share those blessing with others," he said. "God's concern is for the world and not simply for a nation. ... Too often we narrow down faith to serve our own immediate concerns and national interests."
In many ways, Griswold reserved his strongest condemnations for what he sees as a disconnect between the country's God-talk and the values of the Christian gospel, which emphasize care for the poor, the downtrodden and the hungry.
"If these are God's values and we claim to be a nation under God, then we better take them seriously, or we better take the words away and say it's a joke, or it's a piece of decoration."
Diane Knippers, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a conservative think tank that monitors the mainline churches, called Griswold's remarks "extremist" and unhelpful.
"I can go places and talk to people who do not admire the United States, but I also go places where it's clear that people admire us," Knippers said. "We are still the nation where people are constantly knocking at the door to get in."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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The US is already the largest donor and the largest donor per capita of foreign aid. Yes, some of it is to help the righteous of the world defend themselves and their freedom from an Islamic onslaught (ie Israel) with weapons and intelligence but much of it goes to education and medical assistance for which we are resented for our generosity.
I don't expect Bishop Griswald or the Pope to come out singing "Onward Christian Soldiers" (though it would be nice) but at least the Pope simply reminded the world of the principles of a Just War and didn't come out and lambaste the President and the American people who support him and his actions.
We have a right to self defense and President Bush labeling Iran, Iraq and North Korea was probably more pragmatic and prescient.
Ask us if we really give a ****.
This says more about him than it does about U.S. foreign policy or about the President.
Idiot, find some country more to your liking and STAY there.
Positively Van Winklian.
Hey! though I guess you are right, the National Council of Churches is clearly a leftist force. I suppose the Episcopal Church belongs. Just hadn't realized they were so completely gone over to the "dark side."
Well, Mr. Griswold (I will withhold the title), who says you have to apologize for being from the U.S.? Get a spine and tell the jerks who demand that you do that it's not of their damn business.
Either that or move to a country where you can be 'proud'.