Cardinal Ratzinger Says Unilateral Attack on Iraq Not Justified

Gives Personal Opinion; Favors Decision from U.N.

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TRIESTE, Italy, SEPT. 22, 2002 ( Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger does not believe that a unilateral military attack by the United States against Iraq would be morally justifiable, under the current circumstances.

According to the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — who acknowledged that political questions are not within his competence — «the United Nations is the [institution] that should make the final decision.»

«It is necessary that the community of nations makes the decision, not a particular power,» the cardinal said, after receiving the 2002 Trieste Liberal Award. His statements were published Saturday in the Italian newspaper Avvenire.

«The fact that the United Nations is seeking the way to avoid war, seems to me to demonstrate with enough evidence that the damage would be greater than the values one hopes to save,» the cardinal said.

He said that «the U.N. can be criticized» from several points of view, but «it is the instrument created after the war for the coordination — including moral — of politics.»

The «concept of a ‘preventive war’ does not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church,» Cardinal Ratzinger noted.

«One cannot simply say that the catechism does not legitimize the war,» he continued. «But it is true that the catechism has developed a doctrine that, on one hand, does not exclude the fact that there are values and peoples that must be defended in some circumstances; on the other hand, it offers a very precise doctrine on the limits of these possibilities.»

The Vatican official appealed to the three religions derived from Abraham to offer the Ten Commandments as the means to dissuade terrorists.

«The Decalogue is not the private property of Christians or Jews,» Cardinal Ratzinger said. «It is a lofty expression of moral reason that, as such, is also found in the wisdom of other cultures. To refer again to the Decalogue might be essential precisely to restore reason.»

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