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Envoy returning from Baghdad to Rome says peace still possible

"Peace is still possible in Iraq and for Iraq," said Cardinal Roger Etchegaray. "I return to Rome shouting it as hard as I can".

Cardinal Etchegeray was speaking before his departure from the Iraqi capital.

In a declaration issued in the Vatican, the French cleric stressed that "the new and brief truce" that has been granted, "must be fully utilised by everyone in a spirit of reciprocal trust to respond to the demands of the international community".

Etchegaray referred to a "bright interval" amongst the "storm clouds that have gathering on the horizon". He said that "every minimum step taken in the next few days has the value of a great leap towards peace".

He described his short visit to Baghdad as "days of extraordinary intensity", saying that he lived them "in common with the person that sent me", which was Pope John Paul II.

"Rarely I felt that I was not only the bearer of his message of peace, but that he was also present," he said. "I just followed him amongst the Christian community and amongst the Iraqi people, to Saddam Hussein, who carefully listened to the live word that comes from God which every believer, descendant from Abraham, welcomes as the ferment of peace".

"Leaving this land which has been unjustly injured by others, I would like to be, just more than the simple echo, the amplificatory of an inspiration of a country that has a pressing need for peace".


Hong Kong: Followers Of Various Faiths Add Their Mark To 'No-War' Protests (UCAN)
Korea: Bishops Express Opposition To War On Iraq As Thousands Rally In Protest (UCAN)
Assisi Bishop Urges Aziz to Do All in His Power to Avoid War (Zenit)
Iraq: [Vatican Radio Director says] America Should Return to its Temperate Ways (Vidimus Dominum)
John Paul II Calls on Iraq to Respect U.N. Resolutions (Zenit)

18 Feb 2003