Holy See Reiterates Concerns for Holy Land, Iraq and Africa

Vatican Official Addresses Debate at U.N.

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NEW YORK, SEPT. 30, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The conflict in the Holy Land, the war in Iraq, and the violence in Africa are sources of particular concern for the Holy See in the international scene.

Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, Vatican secretary for relations with states, expressed these concerns Wednesday when addressing the U.N. General Assembly. He noted that it was first time the Holy See had done so «since the resolution of last July 1 which formalized and specified the rights and prerogatives of its status as a permanent observer, a status which the Holy See has enjoyed since 1964.»

In a lengthy address, the papal representative began by analyzing the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.

«Above all, there is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which dominated the whole of the second half of the last century,» he said. «This conflict is not simply contained within the narrow territorial boundaries of the region itself. Those directly involved are the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, and they have the grave duty to demonstrate their desire for peace.»

«With this end in view, a ‘road map’ has been drawn up and formally accepted by both parties,» he added. «May they proceed along it with determination and courage!»

«But the conflict is also followed with intense interest and often with passion by large sections of humanity,» Archbishop Lajolo continued.

«The Catholic Church, present in Palestine for 2,000 years, invites everyone to turn their backs on any action likely to destroy confidence, and to utter generous words of peace and make bold gestures of peace,» he said.

«And if peace is the fruit of justice, let it not be forgotten — as Pope John Paul II has reminded us — that there can be no justice without forgiveness. Indeed, without mutual forgiveness. This clearly requires greater moral courage than the use of arms,» the archbishop added.

Monsignor Lajolo spoke of the Iraqi conflict, to remind the assembly of the Holy See’s opposition to the U.S.-led military intervention.

«The position of the Holy See concerning the military action of 2002-2003 is well known,» he said. «Everyone can see that it did not lead to a safer world either inside or outside Iraq.»

«The Holy See believes it is now imperative to support the present government in its efforts to bring the country to normality and to a political system that is substantially democratic and in harmony with the values of its historic traditions,» the prelate added.

The Holy See is also «gravely concerned about various African countries Sudan, Somalia, the countries in the Great Lakes region, Ivory Coast, etc., scarred by bloodshed arising from mutual conflicts and even more from internal strife. They need active international solidarity. More specifically, and connaturally, the African Union needs to intervene authoritatively so as to bring all legitimate interested parties around a negotiating table.»

He added: «The African Union has already demonstrated its ability to act successfully in some cases. It deserves recognition and support.»

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