MONDAY
March 6, 2000
volume 11, no. 46
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
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REAL REASONS FOR CANCELLATION OF PAPAL TRIP TO IRAQ
Disclosures by Italian Episcopate's Newspaper "Avvenire"

    VATICAN CITY, MAR 3 (ZENIT.org).- John Paul II's journey to the places of Revelation, which he will continue in the Holy Land at the end of March, was supposed to have started in Iraq. However, on the eve of his trip to Egypt, the Holy Father made a "spiritual" pilgrimage (February 23) to Ur of the Chaldeans, Abraham's birthplace, as his trip to Iraq was cancelled.

    The official reasons for the cancellation were published by the Vatican Press Office on December 10. Joaquín Navarro-Valls, Vatican spokesman, explained that "the Iraqi authorities," considering "the conditions the country is experiencing because of the embargo and the no-fly zone," feel unable to "organize adequately the Pope's visit to Ur of the Chaldeans."

    As is often the case, behind the official reasons, there were other reasons that were not stated. A few days ago, "Avvenire," newspaper of the Italian Episcopal Conference, disclosed that the failure of the papal plan to go to Ur of the Chaldeans was due to the position taken by the Baghdad government. This position compromised the purely spiritual nature of the Pope's visit.

    Contacts between the Vatican and Saddam Hussein's government in connection with the papal trip began in early 1999. "Evidently, behind all the dispositions of the Iraqi government there was a very specific calculation. They thought that, in spite of the Pope's repeated affirmations about the spiritual nature of this stage [of the pilgrimage], it would not preclude the re-launching this country, decimated by the embargo, on the international scene, and scoring a political success," the article in "Avvenire" stated.

    The Vatican considered the above conditions "unacceptable," and, according to the Italian newspaper, this was the real reason for the cancellation of the visit. ZE000030308

          

March 6, 2000
volume 11, no. 46
NEWS & VIEWS

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