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"Deeply pained" Vatican faults both sides in Iraq War

The Vatican expressed "deep pain" yesterday over the start of war against Iraq, faulting both sides for failing to find a peaceful solution.

Pope John Paul II, a staunch opponent of the war, dedicated a dawn Mass in his private chapel to peace.

In a later statement, the Vatican said it "lamented" the Iraqi's government failure to accept the UN demands that the country disarm, noting the pope had appealed for such.

On the other hand, the Vatican said it "deplored" that negotiations for a peaceful solution were interrupted.

The Vatican repeated that its embassy in Baghdad will remain open and that Catholic organisations in Iraq will continue to provide assistance to the population.

Cardinal Pio Laghi, who recently met with US President George W. Bush as part of the pontiff's campaign against the war, said the pope was continuing to pray for peace.
"Perhaps he still has a role to play," Laghi said.

Cardinal Roberto Tucci, who organises the Pope's travels, told Vatican Radio that war is "a defeat of reason and the Gospel", according to Cardinal Roberto Tucci. He alleged that "when we find out everything, we will realise that this war was decided way before the issuing of results of the work of the UN inspectors, and this is terrible".

The Cardinal underlined the "enormous responsibility of Saddam Hussein" but at the same time claimed the right to "criticise America" and the fact that the armed intervention was decided "beyond any legality and any international legitimacy".

He however condemned the positions of anti-Americanism that "do no good to anyone, neither to America nor Europe, and are dangerous because they weaken the strengthen democratic nations".

US Secretary of State Colin Powell telephoned the Vatican secretary for relations with states to say that "we understand the Pope's concern" over Iraq.

In an interview by International Wire Services, Powell said that he had spoken to Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran earlier in the week to explain that "sometimes issues come before us that cannot be avoided, but because we are peace-loving, we hope they'll go away, and we believe firmly this is one such issue."

On Wednesday, the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera reported that the Holy See appreciated the "welcome" telephone call because, according to Vatican sources, Powell also assured the Vatican that "all necessary precautions have been taken to avoid civilian victims."


Holy see statement on hostilities in Iraq (Vatican Information Service)
"Deep Pain" at Vatican as War Begins (Catholic World News)
Holy See statement on the start of war (Independent Catholic News)
Vatican expresses 'pain' over war (Ananova)
Vatican condemns US attack on Iraq (Middle East Online)
Bishop regrets that war not averted, warns about wartime conduct (Catholic News Service)
Iraq: Union of Superiors General President - Pray War Not Long (Vidimus Dominum)
Vatican 'sorrowful' over Iraq (CNN)
Dutch Catholic bishops condemn war (
Jesuit Fr. De Rosa argues the immorality of all wars in the last issue of "Mondo e Missione" (Vidimus Dominum)
The morality of war: Religious leaders say war must be a last resort (BBC)
As war looms, Cardinal McCarrick offers Mass for peace (Catholic News Service)

21 Mar 2003