Cardinal Sodano on Jerusalem, and the Iraq War

Insists on International Status for City

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RIJEKA, Croatia, JUNE 8, 2003 ( The Vatican insisted on the need to establish an internationally guaranteed status for the holy places in Jerusalem.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano addressed the issue when questioned Thursday by reporters covering John Paul II’s visit to Croatia.

Regarding the “road map” proposed for the peace process in the Holy Land, the cardinal stressed the need to define the Palestinian borders.

“There cannot be states like Gruyere cheese,” the cardinal said in statements published by the Roman newspaper Il Messaggero. “The borders must be clear.”

Palestinian refugees “have the right to return to their homes or, if this is not possible, to receive indemnification,” he added.

Cardinal Sodano expressed his hope that negotiations supported in the Jordanian city of Aqaba on Wednesday will continue, and he praised the commitment of the United States.

To achieve a long-awaited peace, “all will have to make sacrifices … in the interest of two peoples, financially bled by military expenditures,” he said.

Moreover, on behalf of the Vatican, the cardinal confirmed the need to establish an “internationally guaranteed status for the holy places of Jerusalem.”

Regarding East Jerusalem, a possible future capital of the Palestinian state, the cardinal added: “It is a problem that must be addressed.”

Asked if the Vatican has changed its opinion regarding its opposition to the war in Iraq, he answered: “History will be the judge. We must not look back and end up as Lot’s wife.”

“In any case, it is too early to pass judgment,” the cardinal added. “To educate peoples in democracy is a task that takes much time. Suffice it to think of European history — how many centuries it took … and these were peoples with great civilizations.”

The hope, he said, is that in Arab nations a “dialoguing and tolerant” Islam will arise, as in some parts of Africa and Asia.

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