Presiding Bishop issues statement on Syria

Posted Sep 13, 2013

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued the following statement on the situation in Syria.

The situation in Syria continues to evolve.  The death and violence that have been wrought on the Syrian people are a humanitarian tragedy of the first order.  I do not believe further violence is likely to end the tragedy, but rather seems likely to increase or prolong the disaster.  I applaud President Obama’s restraint and willingness to look for diplomatic solutions — changing position requires courage of the first order.  It is a sign of profoundly care-filled leadership both to test the possibility of other, more creative and life-giving solutions and to put the needs of vulnerable populations ahead of one’s own image or reputation.

The Episcopal Church and its people continue to pray for the people of Syria, of all religious traditions and none, and we call on the world to help find responses that will result in more abundant life for every citizen of that nation. 

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church


Comments (25)

  1. Robert Renwick says:

    Thank you, Bishop Schori

  2. AMEN! Well-stated, Bishop Schori! Thanks for speaking for many of us in the pew & activists in the streets … Shalom & Salaam! – The Rev. Jane Boram – (Christ Church Cathedral -Nashville, TN)

  3. Albert Pike says:

    What grace-filled commentary on a most difficult international situation, Bishop Schori! I applaud your courage in supporting all alternatives to war and violence in response to the Syrian tragedy.

    Blessings on your leadership of the Episcopal Church,

    Father Al

  4. Rev. Peter De Franco says:

    Thank you for your comment, Bishop Schori. There has been a decided silence on the just war theory that should inform the decision to go to war, however limited. Most moral theologians do not see that the diplomatic options have been exhausted. Thank you for drawing attention to the need to continue a diplomatic process. Pax.

  5. Lynn Walton says:

    So well said. Thank you for helping to verbalize my feelings. I’m very proud to be Episcopalian and pray for the people, all the people of the world.

  6. Dawn Booth says:

    Thank you, Bishop Schori. The situation in Syria and surrounding countries has been weighing on my heart and the hearts of my family members, and the of people in my local parish. We will continue to pray for peace.

  7. Tom Blair says:

    Are you kidding Ms. Schori? You remind me of the neo-cons. “President Obama’s restraint and willingness to look for diplomatic solutions “! Give me a break! He said he wants war. He added that he feels he has the power (despite explicit wording to the contrary in the Constitution) to make war without the consent of the congress (e.g. the approval of the American people).

    Stop defending him. He is eager to make war for reasons that may benefit Israel, big Oil, or AIPAC-donations to the DNC – but he has been dragged kicking and screaming (by Vladimir Putin and American public opinion) into a negotiated solution.

    Thank god – for once peace wins.

    1. Russell Ayers+ says:

      Mr. Blair… your comments are either more than lousy or less than lousy…. you refer to our Presiding Bishop at “Ms.” Schori… you give yourself away from the first get-go…. Rudeness plus ill-considered RANT adds nothing to one of the Global tragedies of our time, or of any time.. You are full of accusations …?? .. it is not difficult to see which Play Book you are losing your Game by… Thank God, you don’t have anything to do with the resolution of this egregiously tragic set of affairs…. READ her words, Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest a sane and generous statement about the President of the United States of America and the larger complex issues we all face by our Presiding Bishop who can give you lessons in magnanimity……

      1. Christy Carton says:

        Peace brother. We are looking for peaceful solutions and our dialogue should also be peaceful and based upon Christian principles. An excellent statement by the Bishop.

    2. Charles Sacquety says:

      My dear Tom, your lack of respect for the Presiding Bishop’s office to say nothing of her person degrades whatever you might think of her counsel.

    3. The Rev. Tally Bandy says:

      She is right on target. No more violence. Often I am not proud of being an Episcopalian but she changes all of that.

  8. John Barton says:

    Thanks for your wise counsel, Bishop Schori. I hope you were able to give it to President Obama directly as well as in print. I believe what President Obama wants is to prevent outlawed poison gas from being used against anyone ever again. I hope that can be achieved via diplomacy.

  9. Joe Parrish says:

    Today the New York Times reported that the US stockpile of chemical weapons is three times that of Syria’s, and Russia’s is even larger. Destruction of these very dangerous weapons is imperative for all, including the US and Russia. I pray that the day will come soon when all nations announce they have completely removed these.

  10. Donna Hicks says:

    Peter di Franco comments about ‘a decided silence on the just war theory.’ George Clifford, Episcopal priest and ethicist, talks about that here:

  11. Peter Meyers says:

    Tom Blair’s ill-informed and disrespectful comments to the contrary, Bishop Schori’s well-measured, perspicuous. and perceptive comment says to me there’s a true pastor watching over the flock that is our beloved Episcopal Church. Kudos to you, Bishop Katharine!
    I’m amazed at how slow the talking heads here and abroad have been to pick up on the good cop,/bad cop position President Obama and President Putin have taken to goad President al-Assad (bad cop Obama) and to awaken the American people (bad cop Putin). These are two master politicians, capable of thinking outside the box and needing to play to their constituencies.
    President Obama does not want war. His base is pacific, and he was elected as a war-ending, peace president. He ended the ill-conceived war in Iraq and is in the process of ending the seemingly endless war in Afghanistan. He is dedicated to social justice. He ended torture. He has been successful in overcoming many times opposition to pretty much anything he favors simply because he favors it. I know actions are open to interpretation and others see this differently, but this level of obstructionism says to me, “And to hell with the needs of the country.” Ask yourself when the last time was that you heard anyone refer to the “loyal opposition!” I’m pretty sure I haven’t heard it since the world (including the loyal American part of it) was told, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
    It is simply too facile to equate Syria with Iraq. I don’t want war. I certainly don’t want my beloved son-in-law to have to risk his life again in the Middle East; AND I can’t abide the slaughter of innocent civilians that make Hitler, Stalin, and Milošević come immediately to mind. We waited while Hitler exterminated Jews, homosexuals, and defectives and while Stalin slaughtered the White Russians. To our credit we intervened earlier in Bosnia-Herzegovina and prevented the loss of hundreds of thousands if not millions of Bosnian Muslims. American death toll WW I: 204,000; American death toll WW II: 670,000. American death toll Bosnia-Herzegovina: 12.
    If there has to be policing action, Bosnia is by far the better model for the US to follow . Even one American death would be tragic, but then so is each and every death of any Syrian of whatever persuasion. Perhaps we have been numbed by the daily reports of 30 or 100 killed by suicide bomber here, mosques being blown up by Islamists of a different sect there. We are further lulled into a glazed-over mindset by atrocities all over the world., some, sadly, committed by Americans.
    Perhaps we do need to wake up to the world around us; but as its policeman?! Is it our inevitable role?! We need a wide-ranging national debate or our role in the world and many other issues none of which the 24 hour a day dumbed-down sound-bites cannot cover.
    Wage peace not greed!

    1. Peter Meyers says:

      Correction: The last sentences should read:
      We need a wide-ranging national debate on our role in the world and many other issues, which the 24 hour a day dumbed-down sound-bites cannot adequately cover. Wage peace not greed!

  12. Rev. Jan Kozak says:

    Thank you, Presiding Bishop Schori. Once again, you have synthesized beautifully a very complicated situation and brought to bear its essential elements. I am so proud of you.

  13. Jerry P. Schaertel says:

    While I am hoping and praying for a peaceful solution and Justice and Peace might embrace in Syria, I have read of persecution of Christians:
    The London Daily Mail reported Christians in the village of Maaloula claimed Syrian rebels ordered them to convert to Islam on pain of death. The report said opposition forces, including some linked to al-Qaida, gained control of the area.

    One Maaloula resident, according to the Daily Mail, said the rebels shouted “Allahu Akbar,” or “Allah is supreme, ” when they attacked the Christian homes and churches shortly after moving into the area.

    One Christian said in the Daily Mail report, “I saw the militants grabbing five villagers and threatening them and saying, ‘Either you convert to Islam, or you will be beheaded.’”

    The report described Maaloula as a “beautiful mountain village, 25 miles from Damascus.”

    The report said the historically Christian village had become a key strategic battleground in the Syrian civil war


    Can’t our Presiding Bishop make any statement of angst , praise, or some form of feeling about fellow Christians enduring martyrdom and persecution for saying “Jesus is Lord!”?

  14. John Zachritz says:

    Thanks Bishop for pointing out the need for imagining better solutions than a rush to arms.

  15. Kirk Wyss says:

    Bishop Schori’s comment suggests that our President is a diplomatic wunder-kinder. Despite her pronouncement, the President wants to militarily intervene in another country’s civil war. At best, this is the new UN ‘R2P’ policy (right to protect) that was first used in Libya to ill effect. A flip comment by the Sec. of State was seized upon by Vladimir Putin and used to make a laughingstock of the President who had painted himself into a corner, had virtually no allies (one French aircraft carrier) and had lost public support. Chemical weapons are foul but the 100,000 dead in Syria died in every kind of way, painful and instantaneous alike. The Russian solution is wildly impractical and the President’s is simply foolish. Bishop Schori is giving credit where none is due and would have done better to remain silent on this most complex issue. Further, I agree with the comment that it is time for Christian leaders of all stripes to speak up about the persecution and outright massacre of Christian in the Middle East and Africa. When that issue shows up on the covers of major news magazines (Time, The Economist) but isn’t even mentioned at General Convention, the Presiding Bishop needs to re-evaluate her thinking.

  16. W T Wheeler says:

    Jerry/ Kirk;
    Thank you for your well thought out comments in the sea of kool aid.

  17. The Rev.Dr. Robert D. Askren,Ph.D. says:

    Beloved Presiding Bishop Schori,
    The clergy clericus in the Episcopal Diocese of Florida read your reflection on the war in Syria.
    We commend you for your clear message of hope and prayer for the people in Syria as we give thanks for President Obama’s patience and ability to seek a different path rather than being shoved into military bombing as demanded by the Military-Industrial Lobbyists in Congress. The people of Syria did not need more death and destruction. We give thanks that our Congress also is willing to seek a political resolution if at all possible. We pray for peace and justice in Syria!

  18. The Rev. Patrick Bone says:

    I hate war. I remember WW II. John Wayne saved the world. Mom tried to keep her fears from us. None of my uncles died. But they were no longer the men who went off to save the world. As a chaplain during the Nam “conflict” I visited veterans at Ft. Sam Houston hospital. This stirred memories of my first visit to a military hospital ward. The year,1945. The man in front of me smiled. His smile revealed no joy. He left this world long before he died. During Nam, I saw black and white men who looked as if they had been born without arms, legs, and many other body parts. If any one of them survived, I’ll bet he’d tell you about war. Help me out here. Can’t remember. Was it Lee or Grant who said he was afraid of war because he feared he would come to like it too much? I think we’re there. We love war too much. We love the tools of war. Check gun sale profits. Look in your closet. You may see what I see in mine: some kind of gun. God help me/us.

  19. Bonniei Leazer says:

    Thank you Bishop Schori. We in the Episcopal church are extremely fortunate to have you as our presiding Bishop. I am proud of you and proud to be an Episcopalian.

  20. Rick Bowen says:

    Thank you Bishop Schori for your thoughtful words! I just wish more would be said and done about the refugees caused by this conflict. This is a burden that needs to be shared and not ignored.

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