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Presiding Bishop 'deeply grieved' as third anniversary of Iraq invasion approaches

3/17/2006
[Episcopal News Service]  In a statement issued March 17 from the spring meeting of the House of Bishops, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold said that unilateral military action undermines the United States' efforts to create a more secure and stable world.

"I am deeply grieved at the ongoing tragedy and the continuing loss of life," Griswold said in his statement marking the third anniversary of the beginning of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

"I continue to believe that the commitment to peace shared by the three great faith traditions who call the region holy is the only way to bring security and stability to the world God sent his son to save," he said.

The invasion began at approximately 9:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on March 19, 2003.

There have been 2,519 U.S.-led coalition deaths since then, as of March 17, according to a CNN count. Those deaths include 2,314 Americans, one Australian, 103 Britons, 13 Bulgarians, two Danes, two Dutch, two Estonians, one Hungarian, 26 Italians, one Kazakh, one Latvian, 17 Poles, two Salvadoran, three Slovaks, 11 Spaniards, two Thai and 18 Ukrainians. At least 17,124 U.S. troops have been wounded in action, according to the count. Estimates of Iraqi deaths range from 30,000, a figure Bush reported in December, to more than 100,000.

The full text of the Presiding Bishop's statement follows.

A Statement from the Presiding Bishop

On the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, I am deeply grieved at the ongoing tragedy and the continuing loss of life. My prayers are with the men and women of our Armed Forces – as well as the people of Iraq – all of whom continue to make the most profound of sacrifices in a conflict that seems to have no end. In the fall of 2002, I expressed deep unease about "unilateral military action that would inflame the passions of millions ... setting into motion cycles of violence and retaliation." I believed then, as I do now, that such an approach undermines our nation's commitment to creating a more stable and secure world.

My prayers also are with President Bush and the other leaders of our nation and world who are faced with the challenge of securing peace after years of war, and waging reconciliation in the region. I continue to believe that the commitment to peace shared by the three great faith traditions who call the region holy is the only way to bring security and stability to the world God sent his son to save.

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