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Presbyterian Clerk’s Letter to the President

Dec 11, 2002 07:57 AM EST

LOUISVILLE — The Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, the stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church USA sends a letter of appeal to President George W. Bush, asking him to restrain from taking military action against Iraq. In the letter, Kirkpatrick asks Bush to seek a peaceful resolution to the crisis by allowing the United Nations weapons inspections to continue it role.

The following letter, dated Dec. 6, is the latest in a series of attempted communications addressed to Bush since last summer.

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)

By Pauline J.
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