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Vatican Secretary of State says attacks were not a 'religious war'

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, has told US President George W. Bush that he believes last week's attacks do not signal a "religious" war.

On Friday, when he was attending a meeting of the spiritual leaders of an Italian agricultural organisation, Cardinal Sodano said he hoped the West would react to the attacks on the United States with "wisdom and prudence".

"I have confidence in the wisdom of men," Cardinal Sodano said. "Prudence must be the typical virtue of rulers, in order to see what is required to achieve an objective. I hope that, once the angry reactions of the first moment are passed, these men who have the destiny of peoples in their hands, will consider what will lead to the good of humanity."

"It is not up to me to say if it was an act of war," he said. "Sometimes, however, there are tragedies that are greater than war." In such events, the cardinal said, there is "ethnic and cultural valence, but not religious. Certainly in madness, a man can appeal to religious principles, but this is a grave deformation."