Posted on Thu, Mar. 20, 2003
Vatican Faults Both Sides in Iraq War
VATICAN CITY The Vatican expressed "deep pain" Thursday over the start of war against Iraq, faulting both sides for failing to find a peaceful solution.
Pope John Paul II, a staunch opponent of the war, dedicated a dawn Mass in his private chapel to peace.
In a later statement, the Vatican said it "lamented" the Iraqi's government failure to accept the U.N. demands that the country disarm, noting the pope had appealed for such.
On the other hand, the Vatican said it "deplored" that negotiations for a peaceful solution were interrupted.
The Vatican repeated that its embassy in Baghdad will remain open and that Catholic organizations in Iraq will continue to provide assistance to the population.
Cardinal Pio Laghi, who recently met with U.S. President George W. Bush as part of the pontiff's campaign against the war, said the pope was continuing to pray for peace.
"Perhaps he still has a role to play," Laghi said.
The pope has been a staunch opponent of a war in Iraq, saying there was no moral or legal justification and that it would harm relations between Christians and Muslims.
Laghi called the attack on Baghdad a "tragic and disastrous fact."
"The thought now goes to the children, the families, those who run away, those who take shelter," the cardinal Laghi said. "I feel a sense of frustration, fear, fright, especially thinking of the death that's looming over those people."
"The pope has spoken and has screamed and it was his duty to do so," Laghi said. "Yet this unacceptable position has been taken on."
Laghi reiterated that the Vatican's diplomatic mission in Baghdad was staying open throughout the attack. "We also have a religious role to play," he told state radio.
The Vatican nuncio in Baghdad, Archbishop Fernando Filoni, was quoted as saying, "We have celebrated Mass in our chapel, we have prayed for peace."
Laghi noted that the people in Baghdad, including journalists, "will be making sacrifices and people are afraid."
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