Last night in Stamford, Conn., former President George H. W. Bush – one of the nation’s 2.3 million baptized Episcopalians – took strong issue with his denomination’s presiding bishop, the Most Reverend Frank Griswold of New York, for recent anti-American comments the cleric made.
The 41st president was in Stamford to receive the World Affairs Forum’s Altschul Award from U.N. Ambassador John Negroponte.
Bush quoted Griswold’s public statement: “I’d like to be able to go somewhere and not have to apologize for being from the United States. … I am not surprised that we are hated and loathed … for indifference to human suffering.”
The retired president described this Griswold statement as “rhetoric that is highly offensive. I find these quotes offensive. Knowing the president as I do, they were uncalled for and hurt this proud father very much.
“We are the most generous, fairest nation in the world. How can this man of God think so little of the United States providing food and other aid? What we do is generous, kind and compelling as a peace-loving nation. Unlike the bishop, I never will feel the need to apologize for this great country, the United States,” he said, to strong applause.
“Should we be loathed for freeing Afghanistan? Or for taking action against a ruthless dictator who has gassed his own people and wants to acquire more deadly weapons? I know this president better than the bishop. He is a man of faith himself.”
President Bush mentioned a former Episcopal presiding bishop, Edmond Browning, who he described as a “pacifist while I was working up to do battle to liberate Kuwait.”
Bush added that he does not know Griswold, whose office in New York he said he’d telephoned to verify news reports of Griswold’s statements, but, Bush said, he never received an answer.
In their coverage of this Stamford, Conn., event, neither the Associated Press nor the Stamford Advocate had any mention of President Bush’s strong denunciation of the Episcopal presiding bishop, who has generated public controversy virtually unprecedented in American Episcopal Church history.
But Fox News, at the request of the TV program “Hannity and Colmes,” had a television crew on-hand. They telecast nationally what the AP and the Stamford Advocate failed to report.
At the national headquarters of the Episcopal Church in Manhattan, Jan Nunley, deputy director of the Episcopal News Service, when asked about Bush’s statements concerning Griswold, replied:
“No comment. The presiding bishop and the Executive Council are having a meeting in Santa Domingo in the Dominican Republic.”