Iraq's Rebuilding Takes More Than Money, Says Vatican Official

Warns of Fears of Imperialism Behind Aid

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MADRID, Spain, OCT. 23, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The rebuilding of Iraq is more than an economic undertaking -- it demands recovering the trust of the country's people, says a Vatican representative.



Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," made that observation as a two-day conference of donor countries helping Iraq got under way in Madrid.

The archbishop told ZENIT that the conference, which opened today, "implies an important sign of good will of the participant countries and I myself am impressed by the great personalities present, such as Kofi Annan and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell."

He said, however, that the risk is "to see the problem of the reconstruction of Iraq exclusively from an economic point of view, when the priority in this reconstruction is to recover the trust of the people so that they will not see in this aid an inkling of imperialism or of restriction of the freedom of Iraqis."

According to the "Cor Unum" president, "the Catholic humanitarian agencies, among which are Spanish Caritas and 'Manos Unidas,'" have won "the trust of many people in Iraq, not only of Iraqi Christians. I myself was in Mosul and I have seen how the City Council was willing to cooperate with Christian agencies."

At the conference Archbishop Cordes said he intends to invite "governments to collaborate with this network of humanitarian aid, precisely so that the impression won't arise of domination or imperialism over the country."

The Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" is the Vatican organization in charge of encouraging and coordinating the activity of Catholic charitable institutions worldwide.