"No to War!" in Iraq and Holy Land, John Paul II Urges

It Is Always a Defeat for Humanity, He Emphasizes

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 13, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II urged an emphatic «No to war!» in Iraq and the Holy Land, when he received the ambassadors of the world accredited to the Vatican.

After referring to «the feeling of fear which often dwells in the hearts of our contemporaries,» and the «insidious terrorism capable of striking at any time anywhere,» as well as «the unresolved problem of the Middle East,» the Pope today exclaimed: «No to war! War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity.»

On the contrary, «international law, honest dialogue, solidarity between states, the noble exercise of diplomacy: These are methods worthy of individuals and nations in resolving their differences,» he said. «I say this as I think of those who still place their trust in nuclear weapons and of the all-too-numerous conflicts which continue to hold hostage our brothers and sisters in humanity.»

«And what are we to say of the threat of war which could strike the people of Iraq, the land of the prophets, a people already sorely tried by more than 12 years of embargo?» the Pope asked the representatives of the 177 countries accredited to the Vatican.

«War is never just another means that one can choose to employ for settling differences between nations,» the Pontiff stressed.

«As the charter of the United Nations organization and international law itself remind us, war cannot be decided upon, even when it is a matter of ensuring the common good, except as the very last option and in accordance with very strict conditions, without ignoring the consequences for the civilian population both during and after the military operations,» he emphasized.

The Holy Father also referred to the conflict in the Holy Land and insisted that the «two peoples, Israeli and Palestinian, are called to live side by side, equally free and sovereign, in mutual respect.»

He reiterated, as he has on other occasions, that «the solution will never be imposed by recourse to terrorism or armed conflict, as if military victories could be the solution.»

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