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Volume 2, Number 47 January 5 - 11, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
War in Iraq Should Be Last Resort
CITY - Pope John Paul II issued his strongest criticism yet of a
possible war with Iraq, saying Monday that military force can only be used
as "the very last option" - and then only under certain conditions.
a buildup of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, John Paul urged political
leaders to step up their diplomatic efforts to avoid war, which he
said would only harm ordinary Iraqis "already sorely tried" by 12
years of U.N. sanctions.
is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity," the pope
told Vatican-based diplomats in his annual speech on issues of concern
to the Roman Catholic Church.
the charter of the United Nations organization and international law
itself remind us, war cannot be decided upon, even when it is a matter
of ensuring the common good, except as the very last option and in
with very strict conditions, without ignoring the consequences for
the civilian population both during and after the military operations."
was the pope's strongest message yet in opposition to war, and it was
the first time since the crisis erupted that he has publicly mentioned
Iraq by name.
John Paul has only referred in general to the threats of war
and, in his Christmas message, called on the world to "extinguish the ominous
smoldering of a conflict."
Vatican officials have been more explicit, saying in recent newspaper
interviews that a "preventive war" against Baghdad would have no moral
or legal justification, and would only create antagonisms between Christians
U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, James Nicholson, said the United States agreed
with the pope's comment that war isn't always inevitable.
Bush has said war is a last resort," Nicholson said after the
speech. "War won't be necessary" if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein abides
by U.N. resolutions and gets rid of his weapons of mass destruction, he said.
Paul was a strong opponent of the 1991 Gulf War and has frequently spoken
out about the plight of Iraqis suffering under sanctions imposed after
Baghdad invaded Kuwait in 1990.
his speech, the pope also touched on other issues of concern to the church,
including the "crisis" in Vatican-Russian relations and what he called
the risks to the dignity of human life: abortion, euthanasia and human
three, he said, "risk reducing the human person to a mere object: life
and death to order, as it were!"
all moral criteria are removed, scientific research involving the sources
of life becomes a denial of the being and the dignity of the person,"
he told the diplomats gathered in the frescoed Sala Regia of the Vatican's
pope has long voiced opposition to abortion and euthanasia, and the Vatican
has recently entered the debate of cloning and research using stem
cells from human embryos.
spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls, for example, called the recent claims
that a cloned baby had been born "an expression of a brutal mentality,
devoid of any ethical and human consideration."
Russia, the pope denounced the expulsion of five foreign-born Roman Catholic
priests and said he expected Russia to "end to the crisis."
Catholics wish to live as their brethren do in the rest of the world,
enjoying the same freedom and the same dignity," he told the diplomats.
He stressed that dialogue between Christians and with other religious "in particular with Islam, are the best remedy for sectarian rifts, fanaticism or religious terrorism."
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