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US theologian tells Vatican officials war would be self-defence

US State Department envoy Michael Novak has made a theological case for war on Iraq to a skeptical Vatican audience, arguing that military action was justified under traditional self-defense principles and not under some new concept of preventive war.

Novak met privately with Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran at the weekend, the Vatican's equivalent of foreign minister, and officials of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and on Monday detailed his Vatican presentation at Rome symposium organised by the US Embassy to the Vatican.

Novak argued that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has disrupted international order by refusing to disarm and that Iraqi weapons risked falling into the hands of a new breed of international terrorists eager to strike countries around the world with no advance warning.

"A limited and carefully conducted war to bring about a regime change in Iraq is, as a last resort, morally obligatory," Novak said at the Rome symposium.

"For public authorities to fail to conduct such a war would be to put their trust imprudently in the sanity and good will of Saddam Hussein," he said.

The two-hour symposium, about half of which was dedicated to questions, was attended by some 150 invited guests, including lower-level Vatican officials, professors from church universities in Rome and diplomats accredited to the Vatican.

Catholic News Service

Catholic theologian says Iraq 'just war'
Novak Offers Just-War Defense of US Policy
US theologian tries to counter Pope's Iraq view (Philadelphia Daily Inquirer)
Cardinal predicts Novak's effort to sell Vatican on Iraq war will fail (7/2/03)
Theologian [Massingdale] urges US to find security in global justice, not war (Catholic News Service)
Jesuits say military intervention in Iraq impossible to justify (Catholic News Service)

12 Feb 2003