From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Clerk urges Bush to avoid 'rush to war'

Date 10 Dec 2002 16:00:06 -0500

Note #7537 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

Clerk urges Bush to avoid 'rush to war'

Clerk urges Bush to avoid 'rush to war'

Kirkpatrick says it is 'imperative' to let U.N. inspection process work

By Jerry L. Van Marter

LOUISVILLE - With the United States and Iraq appearing to be on a high-speed
collision course toward war, the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, the stated clerk
of the Presbyterian Church (USA), has sent a seemingly last-ditch appeal to
President George W. Bush to let United Nations weapons inspections run their
course and to seek a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

Kirkpatrick's letter is the latest in a series of communications he has
addressed to the President since last summer's General Assembly adopted a
resolution urging restraint in U.S. dealings with Iraq.

The full text of Kirkpatrick's letter, dated Dec. 6:

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) I send
greetings, in the name of Jesus Christ, and wishes of good health to you,
your family and staff in this Advent season. 

In an earlier letter to you, I shared the urging of the 214th General
Assembly (2002) for the United States government to exercise restraint in its
contemplated military action against Iraq and to end all economic sanctions
against Iraq.  

We are grateful that the United States, in recent months, has chosen a
cooperative approach through the United Nations, rather than unilateral
preemptive military action to insure that Iraq complies with United Nations
resolutions calling for the removal and destruction of all weapons of mass
destruction. Our General Assemblies have affirmed on many occasions the
importance of the UN and its decisions in the search for peace in the world.
We are encouraged by reports from the UN and from other sources that Iraq
seems, thus far, to have given full cooperation to the weapons inspectors,
even in the case of surprise visits to palace sites. 

We urge you to do everything in your power to encourage the United Nations
inspection process. It is imperative for all that this be a successful
effort. We urge you to recognize that no such process is perfect and that
achieving the goal of complete disarmament may require special diplomatic
effort to work out misunderstandings that may occur in the process of
verifying the data reported by Iraq. 

While the potential and real threat of military intervention by the U.S. is
clearly a factor in motivating the government of Iraq to comply with the
demands of the United Nations, we would suggest that a more positive
motivating factor would be the offer, if full compliance is achieved, to lift
the economic sanctions that have been so devastating for the Iraqi people. 
This would provide an incentive for the government of Iraq to redirect its
resources towards enterprises that will benefit the Iraqi people.

As Christians, we believe that nothing in life or in death can separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.	The confessions of the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) declare that it is this reconciling love that
"is the ground of the peace, justice and freedom among nations which all
powers of government are called to serve and defend.  [We] are called to
practice the forgiveness of enemies and to commend to the nations as
practical politics a search for cooperation and peace."

Understanding the weight of your office, and the role of your faith as you
face the many challenges of the Presidency, we assure you of our prayers, and
we trust that God will guide you with wisdom as you struggle with the
possibility of war in the Season of the Prince of Peace.

Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick
Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (USA)

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