Vatican Spokesman on Iraq, Europe and an Icon

Interview With Joaquín Navarro Valls

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LES COMBES, Italy, JULY 11, 2004 ( The establishment of an Iraqi government «counts a lot» in the country’s ongoing reconstruction, says a Vatican spokesman.

Joaquín Navarro Valls, director of the Vatican press office, commented on that and other topics today in a brief interview on Italian public television station RAI Uno.

Navarro Valls gave the interview after the transmission of the Angelus, presided over by John Paul II.

Q: The situation continues to be very serious in Iraq, but now there is an Iraqi government for Iraqis. Is the Pope pleased about this?

Navarro Valls: Without a doubt. International law has been re-established, and this counts a lot. Now the concern must always be the same: The priority must be the well-being of Iraqis. All initiatives taken henceforth must start from this.

Q: The new European Constitutional Treaty will be signed in Rome on October 29. Can Europe face the future by severing its roots?

Navarro Valls: No. The fact that in the preamble there is no explicit reference to the Christian roots is a lack, and a serious lack, which, I think, makes this document less authoritative.

Moreover — it must be said — the Holy See has always encouraged any step toward European integration. In addition, in the same text of the Constitution, there are articles, specifically Article 51, which recognize the role of the Christian confessions in Europe.

Q: In the ecumenical endeavor, a highly symbolic step will be taken at the end of August with the Moscow Patriarchate.

Navarro Valls: Yes, we hope this will be so. On August 28 the sacred image of the icon of Kazan will be returned and before this the Pope would like to have a ceremony of devotion to this image, which has accompanied the Pope’s work for many years, as he had it in his private study, in his apartment in Rome.

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