Historian Speculates Why Pope Backs Role of U.N. in Iraqi Crisis

Giorgio Rumi Warns About Dangers of a Divided West

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ROME, MARCH 17, 2003 (Zenit.org).- On Sunday, John Paul II appealed against a war in Iraq and called for peaceful solutions within the United Nations, moved by his personal experience during World War II.



Giorgio Rumi, professor of history at the State University of Milan and a columnist for L'Osservatore Romano, thinks that the Pope's appeal is based on the suffering he himself endured, as "he is Polish and he knows what an unjust attack by two sides means, pincers that crushed Poland with immense sufferings."

"He knows what a defensive war is," Rumi said. "But at the same time he realizes that it is necessary to innovate the methodology that led to the disasters both of the years 1914-1918 as well as that of the years 1939-1945."

For this reason, the Holy Father "knows that we cannot continue on the path of the first half of the 20th century; there must be a change," the historian told Vatican Radio.

"He finds in the activity of international organizations important instruments to lead us toward overcoming this style of relations between peoples," he continued.

Rumi acknowledged that the drama of the Iraqi crisis is the division within Europe, and the division between Europe and the United States, something that is worrying because it was on this cooperation that "all our world was governed in the 20th century."

"All that we have done, including in terms of spreading freedom and democracy, stems from an agreement between the two sides of the Atlantic, this is the truth," he said. "To see everything going up in smoke is a tragic spectacle. It is necessary to heal the division."

"The operation is not easy," he concluded. "There have probably been errors on one side and the other, misunderstandings on both sides."