VATICAN CITY, FEB. 13, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II in his meeting Friday with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz will stress the need for Baghdad to collaborate “in an effective manner” with the United Nations to avoid war.
Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls today said the Pope “will manifest to Aziz the need for Iraq to reflect seriously on the duty of effective cooperation, based on justice and international law, with a view to ensuring the people’s peace.”
On his arrival in Rome, Aziz revealed that he will transmit a message of Saddam Hussein to the Pope on “the war of aggression that is being planned against Iraq.”
Vatican spokesman Navarro-Valls said the Pontiff is very worried about the Iraqi people, exhausted after 12 years of embargo.
But he added that the Holy Father “is not a pacifist.” Rather, the Pope insists on respect for international law, convinced that it is the moral responsibility “of all sides” to avoid war, Navarro-Valls said.
Aziz will meet with the Pope in his private library. After the meeting, the Iraqi will be received by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, and by Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, Vatican secretary for relations with states.
Vatican sources revealed that the Pope and representatives of the Holy See will be very strict when they verify Iraq’s lack of cooperation with the United Nations.
Aziz, 67, born to a Chaldean Catholic family, explained in an interview published today in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, the Pope’s envoy to Iraq, has not been a mediator between the United States and his country.
The cardinal has limited himself to reminding Iraq of the duty of cooperation with the international community, Aziz said.