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Archbishop says uncompromising Pope saved Muslim-Christian relations

Opposition to the Iraqi war by Pope John Paul II and other Christian leaders kept the conflict from damaging Christian-Muslim relations in the Middle East, according to an official of the Maronite Patriarchate in Lebanon.

Archbishop Roland Aboujaoude, vicar general of the patriarchate, said in an interview last week that Muslims generally make no distinction between religion and the state, identify the West with Christianity and fail to recognise that the policies of Western governments are not necessarily inspired by religion.

However, statements of Christian leaders warning against the Iraqi war demonstrated that the churches advocate democracy and freedom for Muslims as well as Christians, he said.

Cardinals Nasrallah P. Sfeir, Maronite patriarch, and Stephanos II Ghattas, Coptic patriarch, were among 19 leaders of the Middle East Council of Churches who issued a statement on 21 March condemning the war, which had been launched two days before.

Catholic News Service

Opus Libani (Maronite Patriarchite in Lebanon)

16 Jul 2003