Churches in Iraq to Give Shelter If Bombing Begins

BAGHDAD, Iraq, MARCH 19, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Churches in Iraq will stay open for people in need of shelter in case of bombing, said Latin-rite Archbishop Jean Benjamin Sleiman of Baghdad.

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«The city is dead today,» the archbishop said. «There is an artificial silence, very little traffic. There is almost no financial activity.»

On the eve of a possible U.S. attack, Archbishop Sleiman told the Misna missionary agency that «many of our faithful, who have roots in the country, have gone back to their lands. They have left the city; they fled with everything they could take. Perhaps they will be safe there.»

«The churches, however, will stay open, regardless of what happens, to guarantee at any time shelter for all,» he said. «The government has given food rations so that, for at least a week or so, there should be no food problems.

«I would like to say to President George W. Bush: ‘War also harms the victor; the only possible victory is peace.'»

«In a certain sense, we are all Americans, as we are all citizens of the world,» the archbishop added. «I love that country and those people, and I would like them to understand what they are about to do.»

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