Force Is Justifiable in Anti-terrorist Drive, Vatican Aide Says

Navarro-Valls Clarifies Ethical Principles of Response

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ASTANA, Kazakhstan, SEPT. 24, 2001 ( The Holy See would prefer a nonviolent response to the terrorist attacks on the United States, but it would understand if Washington decides to use force to defend its citizens from future threats.

Joaquín Navarro-Valls, director of the Vatican Press Office, explained to Reuters today some of the principles that are necessary for U.S. action to be considered just.

«It is true that, if someone has seriously wounded society, and the danger exists that if he remains free he might do it again, there is the right to defend the society one leads, even though this implies that the means used might be aggressive,» said Navarro-Valls, who is accompanying John Paul II on his trip to Kazakhstan.

The Vatican spokesman acknowledged that in some cases self-defense entails the use of violence because of a lack of alternatives.

«Sometimes self-defense implies an action that might lead to a person´s death,» Navarro-Valls noted.

«Either the people who have stained themselves with a horrendous crime are placed in conditions where they cannot continue to do evil, by being handed over to justice and imprisoned, or the principle of self-defense is applied with all its consequences,» he concluded.

The Bush administration says Osama bin Laden is the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and near Washington, D.C. Bin Laden, a Saudi native, is a believed to be a guest of the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan.

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