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RAQ-SODANO Jan-30-2003 (410 words) With photos. xxxi
ROME (CNS) -- The Vatican's opposition to a war against Iraq is based on political realism as well as moral arguments, a leading Vatican official said. "From the outside, we may seem like idealists, and we are, but we're also realists," Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, told Italian reporters Jan. 29. "We're asking for reflection not only on whether a war would be just or unjust, moral or immoral, but also whether it is opportune to irritate a billion followers of Islam," he said. The cardinal said the world's leading countries must be sensitive to the political repercussions of their actions. "I told an American friend, 'Hasn't the lesson of Vietnam taught you anything?'" he said. The cardinal said he appreciated that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 were a dramatic tragedy and a trauma for the United States. "But even in Afghanistan things are not going so well. For this reason, one must insist on asking whether a war would be opportune," he said. Cardinal Sodano also repeated the Vatican's strong moral arguments against a U.S.-led attack on Iraq. "We are against the war. That is a moral position, and there's not much that needs to be said about whether (the war) is 'preventive' or 'nonpreventive.' It's an ambiguous term. Certainly the war is not defensive," he said. He said the Vatican was working with the various tools at its disposal to help avoid a war. He said that includes written communications, phone calls and meetings. Last fall, Pope John Paul II wrote to President George W. Bush about the Iraqi situation, and the president wrote a reply. Although details of the exchange have not been released, Vatican sources said one point the pope made was that the world has still failed to resolve a conflict that creates new victims every day -- the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Cardinal Sodano also spoke about the fighting in the Holy Land, saying there had been "mistakes and blindness on both sides" but that a solution must ultimately involve "two states with secure borders." He said the Catholic Church in the Holy Land has suffered greatly. Many of its pastoral and pilgrim centers are closed, and in recent times seminarians from Jordan have been refused entry for study in Jerusalem, he said. The cardinal said he had spoken to Israeli officials about the seminarian visa problem and that they promised to resolve it.
01/30/2003 10:48 AM ET
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