U.S. Hasn't Ruled Out Holy See's View on Iraq, Says Vatican Aide at U.N.

Peace Rather Than Pacifism a Guiding Principle, Insists Archbishop Migliore

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ROME, MARCH 4, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The United States is not closed to the Holy See's position which seeks a peaceful solution to the Iraqi crisis, says the Vatican's permanent observer at the United Nations.



Archbishop Celestino Migliore said that Cardinal Pio Laghi, the Pope's special envoy to a meeting with President George W. Bush, will explain "the Holy Father's great concern about the risk implied in a solution with force to the crisis taking place in Iraq."

"And he also hopes to learn from the White House, directly and in detail, what its position is. To be in immediate contact helps to understand better what is already known," the archbishop told the Turin newspaper La Stampa on Monday.

He explained that the Holy See's position "is not of pacifism, but rather of working as an architect of peace. The problems exist and they must be resolved, but not by taking recourse to war."

Archbishop Migliore criticized the Italian press for manipulating the statements of Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer regarding John Paul II.

"In Washington, no one has said that President Bush does not listen to the Pope's voice," the archbishop said. "Bush listens to it, as he listens to many others and in the democratic context of expression this voice has its impact."

Asked by a reporter if there was "blind opposition by the U.S. to the positions expressed up to now by the Holy See on Iraq," Archbishop Migliore replied: "I don't see it. There isn't any."

The reporter asked what the difference is between the present situation and the 1991 Gulf War.

"They are different situations. At that time, it was clear that all possibilities for intervention were not exhausted and that, therefore, there was no reason for recourse to force, to war," the nuncio explained.

"Today, it is different: Those who oppose the use of force are basing themselves on reasons that favor military intervention, in virtue of the need for the disarmament of the arsenals of mass destruction," Archbishop Migliore continued.

"Moreover, 10 years ago the element of confrontation between cultures and religions was less evident," he added. "It was no accident that Samuel Huntington wrote his book on the clash of civilizations in 1993. Today, however, the risk is very real and is linked to the consequences of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack suffered by the United States."