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Pope unfazed by Nobel miss

Iranian human rights and pro-democracy activist Shirin Ebadi, whose work has focused on protecting the rights of women and children, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, ahead of the favourite Pope John Paul II.

The pope had been considered a front-runner for the prize this year, following his strong efforts to prevent the Iraqi war and after nearly 25 years of work for peace and reconciliation in the world.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano told Reuters on Friday that the Holy Father is not upset that he failed to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

"The pope is a messenger of peace," he said. "If an organisation wants to recognize it, that's fine. But the pope is above these things."

"I think a human recognition can always be pleasing, but it's not that necessary," Sodano said.

Some observers believe the Pope may have been overlooked for the prize because of his conservative views on abortion, birth control and homosexuality.

"All men of good will recognize his contribution," Sodano said, speaking inside the Vatican's frescoed Apostolic Palace.

"In the first years of his pontificate with the fall of communism I think his insistence on the respect of human rights was the key to help understanding that the (communist) system could not last," he said.

"We have seen with pleasure in the past that they gave the Nobel Prize to Mother Teresa, and Monsignor Carlos Belo of East Timor, Archbishop (Desmond) Tutu of South Africa and other deserving Christians," he said.

Meanwhile the winner Shirin Ebadi, 56, was Iran's first woman judge before the Islamic revolution forced her to resign. The selection was seen as sending a political message to current Iranian leaders as they debate the future political path of the country.

The prize, which carries a cash award of $A1.88 million, is expected to be handed out in Oslo on 10 December.

Catholic News Service

The Nobel Museum | Nobel Peace Prize 2003 (media release)
Pope not upset he missed out on Nobel: top aide (ABC)
Feminist pips Pope for prize (The Australian)
Vatican, Catholics Dismayed Pope Misses Nobel Again (Reuters)
No Nobel, But Pope's Contribution Is Known, Says Official (Zenit)
John Allen: No Nobel of John Paul... (National Catholic Reporter)
Pope passed over for Nobel Peace Prize (Catholic World News)
Peace award divides Iran (BBC)
Catholics dismayed pope misses Nobel (Reuters)
Pope tipped for Nobel Peace Prize (10/10/03)

13 Oct 2003