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Cardinal says Pope prevented anti-Christian backlash

The Vatican's Congregation for Eastern Churches head, Syrian Cardinal Ignace Moussa Daoud I, has said the Pope's statements helped to prevent an anti-Christian reaction in the Muslim world.

He said Arab Christians were grateful to the Holy Father for the part he played.

"There was a big danger that Christians would be considered allies of the Americans, but thanks be to God all this was avoided because of the positions taken by the Pope and the Vatican", he said.

The Pope's statements against the concept of a "preventive war" had won new friends among Muslims, he added.

Meanwhile Iraqi Christians remain uneasy about a surge in Islamic fundamentalism.

Fr Nizar Semaan, a Syrian-rite priest working in northern Iraq, told the Fides news agency that while international media described Shi'ite gatherings in Karbala "as manifestations of victory, democracy and freedom", Iraqi Christians are "very concerned about the future of our country".

The Tablet

7 May 2003