Anxious Iraqis place hope in Papal Envoy
Catholics in Iraq are anxiously awaiting the visit by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, the Pope's personal representative.
Speaking to a Vatican Radio audience yesterday, Archbishop Jean Benjamin Sleiman of Baghdad (pictured) said that the Vatican's peace envoy would arrive "at a time of great anxiety." The visit could "revive hope" among Iraqi citizens who fear that war may be inevitable.
The cardinal's visit, Archbishop Sleiman said, will be "important for all the churches" of Iraq. Most of the country's Catholics belong to the Chaldean rite, which has its historic center in Iraq and claims over 300,000 faithful; the archbishop heads the smaller Latin-rite archdiocese.
He explained that Cardinal Etchegaray would bring "the voice of the Catholic Church, and especially that of the Pope, who has been the greatest advocate of peace in the world for many years."
He reminded the Vatican Radio audience that the Pope has been "the only voice" raised in protest against the embargo on Iraq.
Archbishop Sleiman reported that the telephone lines at his chancery offices had been flooded after the announcement that the Pope was sending a personal envoy. The news had prompted hundreds of calls from Iraqis- Christians and others- who felt that they could now approach their situation "with more courage and more hope."
Catholic World News
Monsignor Sleiman: "visit of Pope's envoy gives us hope" (MISNA)
War Would Hurt Christian Presence, Says [Chaldean Rite] Bishop (Zenit)
Cardinal Achighari today in Baghdad, delegated by the Pope (arabicnews.com)
Buttiglione, peace goes through Vatican diplomacy (Agencia Italia)
Christians [in Pakistan] Fear Backlash From US-led War on Iraq (National Catholic Register)
German churches denounce war (DPA/expatica.com)
Catholic Leaders in Washington to Oppose War in Iraq, Support Pro-Poor Policies (UC Catholic Conference)
War, peace collide in sermons (Christian Science Monitor)
12 Feb 2003