From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Episcopalians: Presiding Bishop's letter to former President George Bush

Date Fri, 31 Jan 2003 18:20:53 -0500

January 31, 2003


Episcopalians: Presiding Bishop's letter to former President 
George Bush

January 30, 2003

The Hon. George H.W. Bush 

P.O. Box 79798 

Houston, TX  77279

Dear President Bush:

Today I made a statement following the President's State of the 
Union Address which articulates my sense of encouragement in his 
bold proposal to combat HIV/AIDS, my prayers for him and our 
armed forces in these anxious days, and my very strong hope that 
actions toward Iraq be made only in concert with the United 
Nations Security Council.  I will not repeat those thoughts 

As I said in my private correspondence to you today, this letter 
is intended to serve as a public response to your comments in a 
recent televised interview. 

My comments were taken out of a larger context and had to do 
with my international travels as Presiding Bishop and my 
opportunities to meet with bishops and archbishops in other part 
of our worldwide Anglican Communion many in countries 
overwhelmed by poverty and disease.  Sadly, they look upon the 
United States, and on me as sign and symbol of the Episcopal 
Church in the United States, with deep hostility.  It is only 
when I apologize for or explain what they perceive as our 
unilateralist and self-serving ways which ignore the needs and 
suffering of their nations that we are able to enter into a 
relationship of mutual care and understanding.

It is difficult for a bishop in Kenya who has taken in 20 
children who have been orphaned when their parents died of AIDS 
to understand the U.S. position with respect to pharmaceutical 
companies and the desperate need for low cost generic drugs.  I 
note here that the proposal of 15 billion dollars to be spent on 
HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean (I am writing to you from 
Santo Domingo) is a wonderful and positive sign that we are 
indeed the deeply caring and generous nation I have always 
believed us to be.

It is my experience that we in the United States have open and 
generous hearts, and are ready to respond to suffering in other 
parts of the world. Our national policies need to be grounded in 
that generous spirit.  Our leaders need to appeal to our better 
natures, and not simply to our fears about our own welfare. 

"To whom much has been given, much will be required," Jesus 
tells us.  And we, as a nation, have been given much indeed.  
Therefore, we must be led by more than our perceptions of our 
national interests and pay close attention to the concerns of 
our global community. 

Be assured of my constant prayers for our nation and its 
leaders, particularly your son.

Yours sincerely, 

The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold

Presiding Bishop and Primate


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