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Human dimension of Iraq War dominates Australian Bishops' meeting

The Australian bishops' solidarity with Pope John Paul's efforts to avoid conflict in Iraq have given a clear message of the Church's concern for the human dimension in war, Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Francesco Canalini said on Friday.

Archbishop Canalini addressed the opening session of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference plenary meeting in Sydney.

"Our present meeting is overshadowed by the recent war in Iraq and its tragic consequences - deaths, injuries, widows, orphans, destroyed families, prolonged deprivation of the basic necessities of life, along with fear, uncertainty and anxiety - all elements deeply affecting the survivors," he said.

At the heart of the Pope's efforts to avoid war was his teaching that peace rests on the conversion of hearts and conscience and on the persuasion that peace is a gift of God requiring human co-operation, he said.

"The Holy Father was supported in his efforts by the solidarity of bishops, in Australia and in many other parts of the world, giving a clear message of the priority the Church attaches to the human dimension and the support she maintains for the resolution of controversies through negotiation and peaceful means," he said.

Archbishop Canalini spoke of the importance of continuing dialogue with Muslims, recognising the Pope's deep determination to avoid a "clash of civilisations".

He also referred to the recent Vatican document on New Age spirituality, acknowledging the attractiveness of such ideology to many in society, but stressing that it was "in radical contrast with Christian faith".

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

12 May 2003