Dominicans Speaking Out to Avert War

As Master General Returns from Visit to Iraq

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ROME, NOV. 22, 2002 ( Dominican religious are pushing hard to avoid a military attack on Iraq, a goal underscored by their leader's recent visit to the country.

The visit by the Dominican master general, Father Carlos Azpiroz Costa, sparked a flurry of correspondence within the order.

Sister Marie Therese Hanna, superior of the Dominican nuns in Iraq, addressed the Dominican family of the United States in a letter sent to Sister Mary Jean Traeger, in which she stressed that "we continue to hope that the efforts of people of good will shall succeed in heading off a new war."

Sister Marie also spoke of "feelings of distress and panic as regards the near future (we know what an American attack on us means!)."

Vidimus Dominum's Web page ( reported that Dominican spokeswoman Sister Margaret Ormond stressed the initiative of solidarity -- "There is a family in Iraq" -- launched by the Dominican Leadership Conference in the United States a month ago.

The initiative aims to send material help and to raise public awareness about the dire situation of Iraqi civilians.

Sister Margaret Galiardi spoke at a meeting of U.S. congressmen in recent weeks, emphasizing that "a policy of 'pre-emptive attacks' will only result in the world's only superpower losing any chance of assuming a role of true leadership in the world."

Upon returning from his Iraq trip, Father Azpiroz sent a letter to the Pope, thanking him especially for the publication of the apostolic letter "Rosarium Virginis Mariae." The letter institutes a year of the rosary, a devotion rooted in the Dominican order.

Father Azpiroz said his visit aimed to "confirm" communities of religious, especially those "in the mission," in "these particularly difficult times."