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Pope expected to tell Bush he is wrong

Pope John Paul II is expected to warn President George W. Bush when the two meet early next month that his policy in Iraq is wrong and the actions of US troops are damaging efforts to bring religions closer together.

Cardinal Pio Laghi, who revealed the Pope's intentions, said the US-led occupation force in Iraq should be replaced by "a multinational presence which is not dominated by those who wanted and fought the war".

It was not enough for a military force in Iraq not to be under US command, "it must not even give the impression that it is", he said.

Laghi was the Pope's envoy to Washington last year in a fruitless attempt to persuade Bush not to invade Iraq against the wishes of the majority of the United Nations and its 15-member Security Council.

Referring to revelations this month of torture and humiliating mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers, the cardinal asked "how is it possible to remain in Iraq if these abuses continue?"

Meanwhile leading local social justice campaigner Fr Frank Brennan SJ, will question Australia's involvement in the Iraq War in a public lecture at Perth's Notre Dame University tonight. He will relate Australia's complicity in the increasingly discredited Iraq War effort to the country's poor human rights performance with regard to the treatment of asylum seekers.

"There is an ongoing deficit in public honesty and rigorous inquiry when it comes to debate about the morality of our engagement in war, about the limits of ASIO's powers, about our treatment of asylum seekers and the identification of their deprivations with national security and border protection needs," he said.

"There's an important democratic role for unelected citizens, including church leaders, to question government's public rationale and private purpose, to correct the misperceptions, and to espouse rational and coherent policies that do less harm to vulnerable people and to our peace and security.

Pope expected to tell Bush he is wrong (AFP/ 13/5/04)
Social justice campaigner to give public lecture at Notre Dame (Notre Dame University 3/5/04)

Vatican nuncio says U.S. credibility harmed by prison-torture story (Catholic News Service 11/5/04)
Vatican fears "tragic" fallout of prison scandal (Catholic World News 12/5/04)
Holy See Urges a Timetable for Recovery of Iraq's Sovereignty (Zenit 12/5/04)
Pope prays for peace in Iraq (The News 13/5/04)
Iraq: Catholic priest says: "Christians live in fear" (Independent Catholic News 13/5/04)
Prison abuse 'more serious blow' than Sept. 11, Vatican official says (Catholic News Service 12/5/04)
Pope will scold Bush on Iraq, cardinal says (Catholic World News 13/5/04)
Answering for torture (The Tablet 15/5/04)

14 May 2004