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Episcopal Leader Criticizes U.S. Policy

In a public dispute with former President Bush, presiding bishop faults actions on world stage.

January 31, 2003|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, under fire from former President George Bush for his sharp criticism of U.S. foreign policy, said Thursday that Americans have generous hearts but that spirit also must be reflected in the nation's actions.

The statement from Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold, the leader of Bush's own denomination, was the latest turn in a public dispute between the prelate and former president.

Griswold, whose office is in New York, initially drew attention with remarks he made in an interview with the Religion News Service.

"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.

The nation also is disliked for its "reprehensible" rhetoric, Griswold said. "I'd like to be able to go somewhere in the world and not have to apologize for being from the United States," he said.

On Monday, in a speech from Stamford, Conn., carried on Fox News Channel, the senior Bush said Griswold's words were "highly offensive."

"How can this man of God think so little of a nation that provides 60% of the world food aid -- does far more for AIDS than any other country?" he asked.

"I found these particular quotes to be offensive. And knowing the president as I do, I found them uncalled-for," Bush said.

Griswold opposes the current President Bush's military buildup near Iraq.

In Thursday's statement, Griswold said that Americans "have open and generous hearts," but "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."

Griswold told Bush that he finds he can reach an understanding with people overseas "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."

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