Vatican offical says UN should decide whether to attack Iraq

 The Italian newspaper "Avvenire" published an interview yesterday with Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, secretary for Relations with States, about the international situation. Referring to the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York on September 11, 2002, the archbishop said that "that abominable action provoked the universal condemnation of terrorism ... and prompted the leaders in society to examine the causes of such inhuman violence. In addition, the meeting in Assisi on January 24 as well as the 'Men and Religion' meeting in Palermo have emphasized that religion can never justify terrorism and that all believers have the common duty to dispel hatred." Speaking about the Holy See's position on the situation in Iraq, the prelate responded by saying: "To promote dialogue always; never to isolate a country or a government ... Obviously one evil cannot be combatted with another evil ... If the international community, inspired by international law and in particular by the resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations, were to consider the use of force opportune and fair, this would have to take place through a decision made within the framework of the United Nations, after having weighed the consequences for the Iraqi population, as well as the repercussions on countries in the area and on world stability; if not only the strictest law would prevail." With respect to what would be the basic conditions in order to achieve lasting peace in the Middle East, the secretary for Relations with States said that in the first place it would be necessary that "they drop their arms and that everyone respects each other and their legitimate aspirations; that everyone applies the rules of international law; that the occupied territories are evacuated and that a special statue that is internationally guaranteed is instituted to safeguard the unique and sacred character of the Holy Sites of the three religions in Jerusalem. In addition, the international community would have to be more present in the region in the order to help both sides." Asked about the repercussion of John Paul II's words of condemnation of violence throughout the year, Mgr Tauran said that "they have been of great value to help everyone to understand that a theology of terror cannot exist and that extremist groups that find inspiration in Islam should not be confused with true Muslims" and that "many heads of State that have visited the Vatican have expressed satisfaction because the Holy See's position has warned about any such confusion and has addressed an independent word to each one." Regarding changes that may have been implemented due to September 11 in relations between the Holy See and the Islamic world, the archbishop said: "I think that it is clear to everyone that fighting terrorism does not mean combatting Islam ... the Pope and his collaborators have reiterated this on many occasions." Lastly, analyzing the results of the war on terrorism during this past year, he affirmed that "the most important thing is that no political leader worthy of that title or religious leader can justify terrorism in any part of the world ... We must punish the guilty and make sure that they do not do any more damage. But we must be careful not to confuse justice with vengeance and to avoid that entire populations pay for the cruelty of those responsible for the attacks." source: Vatican Information Service

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