Cardinal Says U.S., Britain and Spain Should Heed the Pope

John Paul II Fears “Ungovernable Situation” in Iraq, Envoy Reveals

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 16, 2003 ( The papal envoy who recently met with George W. Bush said that John Paul II’s voice must be heard at the U.S.-British-Spanish summit under way in the Azores.

During his greeting today with pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father said: “There is still time to negotiate; there is still room for peace; it is never too late to come to an understanding and to continue discussions.”

The papal envoy, Cardinal Pio Laghi, on Ash Wednesday delivered a note from the Pope to Bush, as part of the Holy Father’s peace efforts in the Iraqi crisis.

The cardinal said he hoped that the Pope’s words would also be heard at today’s summit between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar.

Cardinal Laghi, former apostolic nuncio in Washington, dined with the Pope on Saturday to give him details of his meeting with the U.S. president. He was unable to do so earlier, since the Holy Father was on his annual Lenten retreat.

“The issue of peace was always present in the Pope’s prayer during this retreat, in which I also participated,” the cardinal later told the press.

“And among the weapons we still have to stave off the war, first of all is prayer,” the cardinal stressed. “We have prayed and continue to pray that the world will have confidence in the power of peace.

“We insist on Iraq’s disarmament but we hope it can be obtained without unleashing a war. I expressed this hope to Bush, and this hope persists: Let us not abandon hope, but of course today things have become very complicated.”

The Pope fears that “the Middle East will be destabilized and that a possible war against Iraq will mark the beginning of an ungovernable situation,” the cardinal concluded.

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