By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- It would not be moral for the United States, acting alone or with only a few allies, to attack Iraq before a new round of inspections of Iraq's arsenal, said Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
The cardinal, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said the United Nations, while not perfect, is the body chosen by the world community to judge the legitimacy of war.
As long as the United Nations and most of its member nations support weapons inspections instead of immediate military action, the United States does not have a right to act unilaterally, the cardinal told reporters after a speech on politics and morality.
The cardinal's comments were reported Sept. 21 in the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire. His office did not confirm his remarks, but distributed the text of his speech in Trieste, Italy.
Asked by reporters if U.S. military action against Iraq could be justified morally, he answered, "Certainly not in this situation."
"The United Nations exists. It must make the decisive choice," he said. "It is necessary that the community of peoples and not an individual power make the decision.
"And the fact that the United Nations is trying to avoid war seems to me to demonstrate with sufficient evidence that the damage which would result would be greater than the values trying to be saved," Avvenire reported the cardinal said.
The United Nations, the cardinal said, "is the instrument created after the (Second World) War for a moral coordination of politics."
In his speech, Cardinal Ratzinger said that while politics is in the sphere of reason it includes moral reasoning "because the aim of the state and, therefore, the aim of every policy has a moral nature, that is, peace and justice."
The cardinal said, "The triad of peace, justice and the integrity of creation is universally recognized, but from the point of view of content it is totally undetermined: What is at the service of peace? What is justice? How do you protect creation in the best way?"
Cardinal Ratzinger said while majority rule may seem to be "the most reasonable" way to determine what is right or just one must recognize that "there are values which no majority has the right to abrogate," particularly the right to life.
The cardinal said the Ten Commandments spell out the unchanging and unchangeable values.
While identified with the Judeo-Christian tradition, he said, the commandments are the "highest expression of moral reasoning and as such coincide with the wisdom of other great cultures."
Discussing Iraq Sept. 24, the general director of Vatican Radio, Jesuit Father Pasquale Borgomeo, also underscored the role of the United Nations and the danger of unilateral U.S. action.
In addition to allowing the world to know if Saddam Hussein and his regime pose a real threat to other nations, agreed international action would signify "a suspension of unilateral decisions," open the way to dialogue and lessen international criticism of the United States -- a criticism which, he said, is not helping the war against terrorism.
A war on Iraq will not make the world a safer place, he said.
What is needed is "a decisive struggle against the injustices, the unsustainable situations of poverty and human degradation which form the ideal cultural atmosphere for terrorism today and in the future," Father Borgomeo said.
If "a unilateral decision on the part of the United States prevails, this would be a deadly blow to the international solidarity which was intelligently sought after following the tragedy of Sept. 11," he said.
09/25/2002 12:55 PM ET
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