Pope and Aznar Concur on Need for U.N. Role in Crisis

John Paul II Urges “Peaceful Initiatives”

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 27, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II appealed to Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar and all parties involved in the Iraqi crisis for “peaceful initiatives … inspired by international law.”

The “cordial conversation,” as it was described in a statement by Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls, was held today in the Pope’s private library. It lasted a half-hour and served to underline that “the situation that has been created in Iraq is serious and that there must be a solution.”

During the private audience, the Holy Father expressed the hope “that all parties involved — without exception — will make just decisions and undertake peaceful initiatives that are efficacious and that conform to justice, inspired by international law and ethical principles,” Navarro-Valls continued.

For his part, the “head of the Spanish government explained the path of action followed up to now by Spain in face of the Iraqi crisis, illustrating, in particular, the danger of terrorism and, therefore, the need for a common action on the part of the United Nations.”

“On these matters, a convergence of positions with the Holy See was noted,” the Vatican spokesman stressed.

Spain is a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and supports the draft of the second resolution on the crisis presented Monday by the United States and the United Kingdom, which provides for the use of force to disarm Iraq.

Aznar later met with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, secretary for relations with states.

Lastly, the Vatican statement reveals that during these meetings “they examined several aspects of the European reality, with particular attention to the Constitutional Treaty of the European Union.”

The Holy See is calling for the recognition of the status of religious communities within the European Union, as well as the contribution made by Christianity in the formation of values that are integral to Europe’s identity.

Aznar first visited the Vatican as head of the Spanish government in March 1997.

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