Torture of Prisoners Lamented by L'Osservatore Romano

“Tragic Antithesis of Basic Principles of Civilization,” Says Paper

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 9, 2004 ( “Horror and shame” were the words that appeared repeatedly on L’Osservatore Romano’s front page when it commented on the torture of prisoners in Iraq by U.S. military units.

“The Iraqi conflict, already marked by mourning and destruction, now takes on more tragic connotations with the discovery of inhuman tortures inflicted on Iraqi prisoners,” said today’s Italian edition of the Vatican semiofficial newspaper.

“In the abuses and ill treatment of prisoners is consummated the radical negation of man’s dignity and his fundamental values,” the newspaper lamented.

“The brutal offense against one’s fellowman is the tragic antithesis of the basic principles of civilization and democracy,” the unsigned article continued. “In this disturbing scene, a speechless world questions itself, full of horror and shame.”

“In particular, the people of the United States feel profoundly betrayed in their humanity and in their history when learning that torture — an affront against the human person — has been perpetrated under its flag, dishonoring it,” the article said.

On Friday, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, Vatican secretary for relations with states, said that this “violence against persons offends God himself, who made humans beings in his image and likeness.”

“Those responsible must be brought to justice and punished, as well as their immediate superior who failed in their important duty to restrain them,” the archbishop added in statements to Italian Public Radio and Television.

The archbishop stressed that torture is “contrary to the most elementary human rights and radically opposed to Christian morality.”

He added: “The scandal is even more serious if one takes into account that those actions were committed by Christians.”

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