Saddam Must Be Dealt With Through U.N., Says Cardinal Lehmann

Insists That Opposition to U.S. View Doesn’t Necessarily Imply Anti-Americanism

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ROME, MARCH 12, 2003 ( The president of the German bishops’ conference considers Saddam Hussein a serious threat and warns that the error committed with Hitler must not be repeated. But he also calls on the United States to resolve the Iraqi crisis within the framework of the United Nations.

Cardinal Karl Lehmann, the bishop of Mainz, said he thinks the danger posed by the Iraqi dictator is grave.

“If the world had reacted when the Nazis marched on Prague or when they invaded Poland, if the world had not closed its eyes, a world war would have been avoided in the dimensions that were later verified,” the cardinal stressed.

He added, however, that such a decision must be made by the Security Council, as “the existence of the U.N. is a very important factor for nations and for international law.”

“It would be fatal if a large and powerful country like the United States, exemplary for being a democracy for centuries, would think all of a sudden that it can act as it pleases and unilaterally,” Cardinal Lehmann said Monday in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

“It would be an enormous counterblow to the United Nations,” he continued. “This is why I continue to hope that over the next few days a way will be found to act together. The problem is that the disputing parties entrenched themselves too rapidly in their respective positions.”

The cardinal contended that the opposition to the U.S. position does not necessarily imply anti-Americanism. “Why can’t friends have a different point of view on a particular question?” he asked.

“In Germany, many people know what they owe the Americans, including the youngest generation,” the cardinal continued.

This explains the position of some of the former Communist Eastern European countries, which are supporting the positions of President George W. Bush. “They know, very well, to whom they owe their freedom,” he said.

In conclusion, Cardinal Lehmann said: “I would like to say to the Americans that they must make a greater effort to practice partnership. It is not easy for the one that is the sole superpower.”

At the same time, “it is important to make it clear to the Muslim peoples that there is no battle against Islam, and that what is happening is not a battle of Christianity or of the Christian-inspired civilization against Islam.”

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