United Methodist bishop takes hope for peace to Rome
3/3/2003 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York
NOTE: A photograph of Bishop William Boyd Grove is available at http://umns.umc.org/photos/bishops/grove.jpg.
By United Methodist News ServiceWhen
United Methodist Bishop William Boyd Grove visited Rome recently, a
number of Italians asked him if he thought a U.S.-led war against Iraq
could be averted.
He gave the same answer to each question: "My political hope is small, my gospel hope is large."
was part of a six-member delegation, sponsored by the U.S. National
Council of Churches, which visited Rome Feb. 26-27 to discuss the need
for a peaceful resolution to the Iraq situation. The Federation of
Protestant Churches in Italy served as host. The group talked briefly
with Pope John Paul II and more extensively with Vatican officials, met
with Italian politicians, and gathered with the Protestant community.
Grove, the delegation's mission - essentially to let Europeans know
that many American religious leaders are opposed to war - was important.
"I believe, as do many, that it is a rush to war, and that this war, if
it occurs, doesn't meet the criteria of 'just war' in any sense," he
The bishop noted that he is not a pacifist and is not
against war under all circumstances. However, he believes U.S. military
action against Iraq is morally unjustified.
The pope already has
spoken out against a possible war. "We didn't go to persuade the
Vatican," Grove explained. "We really went to let them know how many
Americans and American Christians feel."
Delegation members were
given front-row seats for the pope's Feb. 26 public audience. "We were
taken up to meet him and to express to him what we came to say," the
bishop said. The group also handed the pope a letter from Pax Christi
USA, a Catholic organization, asking him to come to New York to address
the U.N. Security Council regarding his opposition to a war with Iraq.
next day, the delegation discussed the request with Msgr. Giampaolo
Crepaldi, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who
said he would present the letter to the Vatican's secretary of state.
Msgr. John Mutiso-Mbinda, a senior staff associate with the Pontifical
Council for Christian Unity, also met with the group.
the delegates were "warmly received" in a meeting with Fabio Mussi, the
vice president of Italy's Congress. Also present was Valdo Stini, a
former member of Congress and active Waldensian churchman. The
Waldensian and Methodist churches in Italy joined in a federation in
1979, although local congregations have maintained their individual
In addition to meeting with Italian church leaders,
the delegates participated in a worship service at a Baptist church
across from the Italian Parliament, with Grove serving as preacher.
Rome delegation was the fourth organized by the NCC to visit various
European countries. Earlier delegations met with German Chancellor
Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin, British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London
and the French foreign ministry in Paris. A fifth delegation, led by
the Rev. Robert Edgar, a United Methodist pastor and NCC chief
executive, is traveling to Moscow March 3-5 to meet with Russian
President Vladimir Putin.
In Grove's opinion, the sending of
peace delegations, financed through gifts by an anonymous donor, is one
of the NCC's most significant actions in recent years. "I really can't
think of anything more positive that we could have done with that money
right now," he said.
The bishop also noted that the pope and
others have called upon Christians to make March 5 a day of prayer and
fasting for peace. Grove said he plans to participate.
members of the Rome delegation were the Rev. Tyrone Pitts, general
secretary, Progressive National Baptist Convention; the Rev. Victor
Makari, Office for Middle East and Europe, Presbyterian Church USA; the
Rev. Eileen Lindner, National Council of Churches; the Rev. Gwynne
Guidbord, Office of Ecumenicity, Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles; and
the Rev. Joseph Nangle, Pax Christi, Washington.
Back : News Archives 2003 Main
“We believe in God and in each other.”The people of The United Methodist Church
Still Have Questions?
If you have any questions Ask
Purchase a $20 buzzkill t-shirt and help save a life
Buy a t-shirt