Frank Tracy Griswold III

The 25th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

The Challenges of Global Citizenship

January 30, 2003
Frank T. Griswold

January 30, 2003

These are anxious days as war with Iraq is an ever-present possibility and our economy causes grave concern. We are profoundly aware of our personal and collective vulnerabilities. Such times can make us turn inward and become fearful and self-concerned. Or, they can call up the best in us — both personally and in our national consciousness — by enlarging our sense of interconnectedness and strengthening our will to care for one another. Though we are challenged and troubled, these days have the potential to put us in touch with our best selves. Therefore, let us not be without hope.

I will not second guess those who unquestionably have better information than is available to me about options for action in response to Iraq. However, I call on President Bush to exhaust all diplomatic and multilateral initiatives as the alternative to waging war. Our recent history makes plain how intertwined are the world’s nations; the fate of one hangs on the fate of another. Unilateral actions would strain tenuous relationships between the United States and other nations, and undermine our shared goal of eradicating global terrorism and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Therefore, I strongly urge the President to act only in concert with the United Nations Security Council.

In the midst of our focus on Iraq, we cannot ignore other profoundly significant issues facing the global community. I warmly applaud the President’s call for $15 billion over the next five years for the global fight against HIV/AIDS and this evidence of his compassionate commitment. I will strongly support him as he seeks funding and implementation for this bold new initiative. Sub-Saharan Africa is being devastated by this disease and a generation is dying, leaving orphaned children who are at risk of being drawn into armies and made tools of terror. However, the situation is not hopeless if we commit ourselves to addressing this grave threat which affects us all.

Our nation has an opportunity, and responsibility, to reflect the values and ideals that we espouse by focusing upon issues of poverty, disease and despair, both within our own nation and throughout the global community. The freedoms we enjoy as citizens of the United States oblige us to attend both to our own welfare and to the well being of the world. A nation that is a super power, and declares itself to be “under God,” must exercise the role of super servant. Fighting to eradicate HIV/AIDS and caring for those beyond ourselves is in the best tradition of American generosity and compassion.

My prayers are with our President and other leaders of our nation and world that they may seek to forge peace, with the men and women of the armed forces, including our military chaplains, and their families. I pray that compassion and reconciliation and healing may become the realities of our common life, thereby reflecting God’s own passionate desire for the well being of the world God sent his Son to save.

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