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Volume 2, Number 47              January 5 - 11, 2003            Quezon City, Philippines

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Pope "Deeply Worried" Over Iraq

By The Associated Press

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VATICAN CITY (Jan. 4) - Pope John Paul II is ''deeply worried'' as tensions increase over a possible war in Iraq, a top Vatican official said, adding that no country can act alone to police the world.

The comments by Archbishop Renato Martino, prefect of the Council for Justice and Peace and the Holy See's former U.N. envoy, came amid a series of Vatican criticisms of a possible war in Iraq. In the last two

weeks, the pope himself has called for peace in the Mideast, although without explicit reference to Iraq.

Martino, in an interview with Rome's La Repubblica newspaper published Saturday, described the pontiff as ''deeply worried.''

''The pope lives the drama of the moment, he feels involved personally,'' Martino said.

Martino argued that ''unilateralism is not acceptable.''

''We cannot think that there is a universal policeman to take a stick to those who behave badly,'' he said.

Asked about the idea that some in the United States want the country to act alone, he said: ''It's because American society is very close-knit and it feels sure of itself. Then there's the aggression it suffered on

Sept. 11. The fact that they hadn't ever suffered aggression on their own territory played a role in the reaction, which can be understood.

''Yet it's clear that - being part of the international assembly - the United States must also realize the needs of others.''

Several Church officials have expressed grave concerns about a possible U.S.-led war against Iraq. The pope's Christmas message called on the world to ''extinguish the ominous smoldering of a conflict,'' although the pontiff did not mention Iraq by name.

The Bush administration has threatened to use the American military to disarm Iraq if it does not give up its banned nuclear, biological and chemical weapons as required by U.N. Security Council resolutions. Iraq

maintains it has no more banned weapons.

4 Jan 2003


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