Iraq Needs International Help, Insists John Paul II

Says Terrorism Must Not Take Peace as Hostage

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 12, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Saying that this is not the moment to look back on the Iraq war, John Paul II called on the international community to help give the country a future.



The Pope made these observations today in his traditional address to the diplomats accredited to the Holy See.

"The numerous steps taken by the Holy See to avoid the painful conflict that occurred in Iraq are known," the Holy Father said.

"What is important today," he added, "is that the international community help the Iraqis who have freed themselves from a regime that oppressed them, so that they will be able to take up the reins of their country, to consolidate its sovereignty, to determine democratically a political and economic system in keeping with their aspirations and that Iraq be again a credible member of the international community."

At the same time, the Pope condemned "international terrorism that, by sowing fear, hatred and fanaticism, dishonors all the causes its seeks to serve."

"Every civilization worthy of this name implies the categoric rejection of relations of violence," he said. "We can never be resigned to accept passively that violence take peace as hostage!"

Repeating the proposal he made Jan. 1, the World Day of Peace, John Paul II said: "It is more urgent than ever to return to a more effective collective security that gives the United Nations the place and role that belong to it."

"More than ever, lessons must be learned from the distant and recent past," he said. "In any event, one thing is clear: War does not resolve conflicts between peoples."

Today's meeting with the diplomatic corps brought together representatives from 174 states that have official relations with the Holy See. That is more than twice the number of countries that had official ties with the Vatican in 1978.