Envoy's Presence Shows That Church Rejects War, Says Archbishop

Latin-rite Prelate Sees It as Witness for Muslims

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BAGHDAD, Iraq, FEB. 10, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The presence of a papal envoy in the Mideast is an important testimony for Muslims and Iraqis of the Church’s rejection of war, an archbishop says.

Archbishop Jean Sleiman, of the Latin-rite Catholics in Baghdad, was referring today to the significance of the trip of Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, the papal envoy who is working to avert a war.

John Paul II, who is encouraging all-out efforts for peace, has sent a letter to Saddam Hussein through the cardinal to remind him of the need for effective international cooperation, based on justice and international law.

The cardinal’s visit is important because «it casts a ray of hope in this crisis that seems to have no way out,» Archbishop Sleiman told the SIR agency.

The archbishop described the Iraqi people as «distressed and morally exhausted, consumed by the long embargo.»

«Many abandon themselves to fatalism; many others prefer to go to safer places in case of an attack,» he said. «No one, however, seems to believe in a positive solution of the crisis.»

«The presence of the papal envoy will help the people to live in less anguish,» Archbishop Sleiman added. «The first concrete result will be to show the closeness of the Catholic Church through the Pope’s prayer and the efforts of numerous episcopal conferences.»

He observed that Cardinal Etchegaray’s peace mission «is an occasion of strong witness to the Muslim world and the Iraqi people. … It is important that it be known that Christians do not want the war, that the Church has always tried to stop any intent of war.»

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