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Papal Nuncio to remain in Baghdad despite risk

The Pope's representative in Iraq will remain in Baghdad despite the imminent threat of an American bombing campaign.

Archbishop Fernando Filoni, the apostolic nuncio in Iraq, has indicated that he will remain at his post, although virtually all other diplomats and UN officials have left the city. Teams of journalists have also vacated the Iraqi capital, as have UN weapons inspectors and other international officials.

"Of course we are staying," the nuncio told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera. "How could we abandon the Christian community at such a difficult moment? For us, that question doesn't even come up."

Archbishop Filoni acknowledged the dangers of remaining in a city that has been marked for a devastating bombing campaign. The nuncio said that he would continue his work, and "the rest is in the hands of God."

Meanwhile the Vatican has warned that US President George W. Bush has assumed a "heavy moral burden" by stating his intention to go to war against Iraq.

In response to Bush's declaration yesterday, the Holy See issued a terse one-sentence statement: "Whoever decides that all peaceful means that international law has put at our disposition have been exhausted assumes a serious responsibility before God, his conscience and history."

Catholic World News/Catholic World News

Vatican slams US (The Australian)
Vatican says world leaders 'responsible to God' (Ananova)
U.S. Churches' Clergy-Laity Split on War (AP)
Iraqi Bishop Begs "Mercy for the Children" (Zenit)
[Pakistan] Christians brace for more hits (AFP)
War in Iraq a crime, says Vatican (Daily Telegraph)
[Asian] Church Leaders Oppose Military Action As Iraqi War Looms (UCA News)
[British] Religious leaders join for anti-war vigil (Ananova)
Bush's Iraq Declaration Prompts 'March' On U.S. Embassy In Manila (UCA News)
Argentina: War is always a defeat for humanity, say (Aid to the Church in Need)
Pope calls for continued negotiation, dialogue to avert war in Iraq (Catholic News Service)
American Bishop Bars Faithful from War Effort (Catholic World News)
Catholic doctrine and Saddam Hussein (Washington Times)
US, backers responsible before God on Iraq-Vatican (Reuters)

19 Mar 2003