Cardinal Urges Respect for Rights in Iraq, and Sensitivity in Reporting

Roberto Tucci Says Conflict Isn’t a “Soccer Match”

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 28, 2003 ( A cardinal called for timely humanitarian aid, respect for POWs’ rights, and the avoidance of reporting that treats the Iraqi war as if it were “a soccer match.”

“That Saddam Hussein and his men don’t respect humanitarian rights is, unfortunately, to be expected, given the type of regime that still reigns in Iraq,” Cardinal Roberto Tucci said on Vatican Radio.

He added: “But I would like to think that the Western countries that have gone there with the idea of taking freedom and democracy will realize that, from the point of view of public opinion — not just Western but especially Muslim — it would be very serious if it was proved that there were infractions of humanitarian rights, precisely on the part of the countries that want to take democracy and freedom” to Iraq.

Cardinal Tucci said that Vatican diplomacy worked right up to the last minute for peace, and he discarded the thought that the efforts were useless.

John Paul II did everything he could to enlighten consciences, especially those of political leaders, on evangelical and ethical principles, and on international law, the cardinal said.

“Of course the Holy Father could not impede governments from deciding freely,” he stressed.

In regard to the information reported by the media, Cardinal Tucci emphasized the importance of not looking on the war as though it were a sort of soccer match. “Here,” he said, “we face the question of the tragedy of those who die.”

“There are soldiers who fall on both sides; there is the drama of the civilian population that is affected by this war,” he said. “So we should be very anguished at this time.”

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