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Vatican says Iraqi prison abuse a scandal that 'offends God'

The abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers is a scandal offensive to God himself, the Vatican said, in its first public comment.

"Violence against people offends God himself, who made humans in his own image," the Vatican's foreign minister, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, said on Friday in a pre-recorded television interview.

There is not yet a reported comment from Pope John Paul II. The other major statement from the Vatican was an editorial in the newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, which said: "In the abuses and ill treatment of prisoners is consummated the radical negation of man's dignity and his fundamental values."

Archbishop Lajolo condemned the abuse of Iraqi prisoners, as "episodes of brutality, contrary to the most elementary human rights and radically contrary to Christian morals".

On Thursday Lajolo's predecessor as Vatican foreign minister, French cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, condemned the abuse and alleged torture of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers.

"These images have a terrible effect on Arab populations and throughout the world," Tauran said in an interview with the Italian daily La Stampa.

"When one ridicules human dignity like that, one puts up barriers," added Tauran, who until recently was the top foreign policy official at the Holy See. "When one conducts war, one must respect the law."

In the UK, Birmingham Archbishop Vincent Nichols accused the media of increasing the public degredation of the victims of the prison abuse in the way it has gone about publishing the photographs.

"I wonder, does the search for justice continue to be the real motivation for the relentless publication of these photographs? Might it not be also to do with the selling of newspapers and the seeking of political advantage?"

Vatican says Iraqi prisoner abuse is scandal which 'offends God' (AFP/Channel News Asia 8/5/04)
Archbishop Nichols condemns "misuse of power" in Iraqi prisons (Independent Catholic News 10/5/04)

Torture of Prisoners Lamented by L'Osservatore Romano (Zenit 9/5/04)
Vatican's 'global disdain' for Iraq prison abuse (CathNews 7/5/04)
Vatican newspaper condemns 'inhuman acts of torture' by U.S. soldiers (Catholic News Service 10/5/04)
Archbishop condemns abuse in Iraq (BBC 9/5/04)
CHALDEAN PATRIARCH: NO ONE CAN ACCEPT TORTURE (Missionary Service News Agency 10/5/04)
Original Sin in Abu Ghraib (Beliefnet)

11 May 2004