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FRI-SAT-SUN      December 18-20, 1998      SECTION THREE       vol 9, no. 245

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NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World News Service and Noticias Eclesiales Church News



      VATICAN ( -- The Holy See has issued a clear and blunt condemnation of American "aggression" against Iraq.

      In a statement published December 17, the Vatican said that the missile strikes undertaken by the US should be "stopped as soon as possible," so that "international order may be restored."

      The statement disclosed that the Holy See had already filed a protest against the military action with the Secretary General of the United Nations, and added that this was "a sad day" for the UN and for the world.

      When he was informed about the missile strikes, Pope John Paul II immediately appealed to all leaders of the international community to work for peaceful solutions to the conflicts in the Middle East, and especially in Iraq.

      As he accepted the diplomatic credentials of several new ambassadors (from Guyana, Nigeria, Kirghizstan, and Mongolia) this morning, the Holy Father said he was "alarmed" by the news from Iraq. He said that the need to find peaceful solutions "is more urgent than ever."


      VATICAN ( -- The leader of the 800,000 Chaldean-rite Catholics in Iraq, Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid, was in Rome this week when the US launched air strikes on Iraq. Contacted there by the Fides news agency, the Patriarch-- who was in constant telephone contact with Baghdad-- said that the attack is "immoral, planned by moralists who have no morals."

      The Patriarch charged that President Clinton had ordered the strikes in order to forestall Congressional efforts to impeach him, and said it was paradoxical that in a public effort to justify the military strikes, Clinton-- who has been charged with perjury himself-- accused Saddam of lying to international inspectors. And he complained that UN inspectors had pulled out of Baghdad suddenly, without notifying their UN superiors, in order to accommodate Clinton's plans.

      The Patriarch also renewed his call for an end to the international embargo on Iraq, saying that it has caused widespread poverty, disease, and death.

      The leader of the 800,000 Chaldean-rite Catholics in Iraq, Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid, was in Rome when this week when the US launched air strikes on Iraq. Contacted there by the Fides news agency, the Patriarch-- who was in constant telephone contact with Baghdad-- said that the attack is "immoral, planned by moralists who have no morals."

      The following interview, which was done shortly after the Patriarch had heard the first reports of civilian casualties in and around Baghdad, has been made available to CWN through the courtesy of the Fides news agency.

Q: Your Beatitude, were you surprised by the strike?

A: It was not a surprise, knowing the United States and the intentions of Clinton. He wanted the missile strike to avoid impeachment and he ordered it two days before the start of Ramadan and nine before Christmas. It is paradoxical that Clinton, about to be impeached for lying about Monicagate, should bomb Saddam-- accusing him, as he did in the speech last night, of "lying not once but many times."

Q: Do you think the strike is legitimate?

A: The pretext is specious. For eight years they have been searching for weapons, accomplishing nothing except to humiliate the people and starve them by the embargo. Since 1991, poverty has killed more than 1 million children who lack food and basic necessary medicines. The embargo continues to cause the death of about 20,000 children every month, in homes and in hospitals which lack everything. The people are more and more impoverished, the currency has devaluated more than 5000 percent, unemployment is enormous and the cost of living is rocketing.

      And then who would have sold these weapons to the Iraqi government, if not the West? Richard Butler’s decision suddenly to withdraw the UN inspectors without telling the UN points to a pre- meditated plan. Butler is an American agent. He obeys the orders of the White House, not the UN.

Q: Is the only motivation for the strike to avoid impeachment?

A; No. The United States want peace between Israel and Palestine, and they know that the only country threatening Israel is Iraq. So Clinton thinks he will save himself by obtaining success in foreign policy and pacifying Palestine: this means he must neutralize Iraq. The strike can be explained also after Clinton’s recent visit of scarce success to Israel and the autonomous territories.

Q: What do you think will happen next?

A: If the American goal is to eliminate Saddam, install a new government and then lift the embargo, Clinton cannot imagine this will be achieved with missiles. Without an army fighting house-to- house and a blood bath they will never eliminate Saddam. I don’t think they are moving in this direction. Unfortunately this attack shows the divisions among the Arab countries, they follow their own interests and obey the will of the strongest. If the Arab countries moved together the USA would not have dared to make this attack.


      VATICAN CITY ( - Former Polish President Lech Walesa said on Thursday that Pope John Paul II is worried about the loss of life resulting from the US and British attacks on Iraq this week. Walesa received a private audience with the Holy Father on Thursday.

      Walesa said, "The Pope has been informed about what is happening in Iraq and every drop of blood causes suffering for the Holy Father." The Pontiff had already made an oblique reference to the strikes in a speech to new ambassadors on Thursday morning. "Peace is again threatened in the Middle East. Reconciliation, which is based on dialogue, justice and the right of each person and peoples to live in security ... is more urgent than ever," he said.

      "It is a particular duty of the international community to promote solutions which lead to peace and the renewal of life in society, and to assume the responsibility to avoid the diversions which make people innocent victims," the Pope said.


      GUADALAJARA, 16 (NE) Yesterday, during the second day of the International Congress of Catholic Communicators, Archbishop John Foley, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, spoke during his conference about the "Catholic thought in communications." In his words, Archbishop Foley highlighted that "the social media can be extraordinary educators of the Civilization of Love," affirming also that Catholics are called to achieve that the media contribute to the historical reconciliation and recovery of the own cultural identity of people. "The Church promotes that the media should be each time more human, more attentive to the human person," he stated, affirming that "they should be nurtured of a rigorous ethic, which comes from the ethics of the Christian culture."

      Yesterday's event had also different "panels", the first of which was in charge of Father Pedro Freites, Director of Vatican Radio, Miguel Castellví, of the Vatican Information Service (VIS), and Fernando Lorenzo, Director of the Mexican edition of the L´Osservatore Romano. They spoke about the informative organisms of the Holy See. Father Freites pointed out during his intervention the importance of promoting a Catholic culture through the radio. On the other hand, Castellví underlined that the main objective of the VIS was the instantaneous and electronic transmission of news related to the Vatican, looking forward to inform the public and clarify doubts.

      The day concluded with a "panel" about the new evangelization through Internet, with the participation of Alejandro Bermúdez, Director of ACI Prensa (ACI Press), Ricardo Cruz, of Church Forum, as well as Eduardo Regal, Director of VE Multimedios who explained the different initiatives of VE Multimedios in the world of informatics, such as the Christian Electronic Library ("Biblioteca Electrónica Cristiana -, as well as the numerous computer programs this company has developed.

For more headlines and articles, we suggest you go to the Catholic World News site at the CWN home page and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

November 25th Medjugorje Monthly Message

    Dear children! Today I call you to prepare yourselves for the coming of Jesus. In a special way, prepare your hearts. May holy Confession be the first act of conversion for you and then, dear children, decide for holiness. May your conversion and decision for holiness begin today and not tomorrow. Little children, I call you all to the way of salvation and I desire to show you the way to Heaven. That is why, little children, be mine and decide with me for holiness. Little children, accept prayer with seriousness and pray, pray, pray. Thank you for having responded to my call.

For more on Medjugorje, click on MEDJUGORJE AND MORE

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December 18-20, 1998 volume 9, no. 245   DAILY CATHOLIC