DAILY CATHOLIC    TUESDAY     October 19, 1999     vol. 10, no. 199

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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IRAQ, VATICAN BEGIN PAPAL TRIP PREPARATIONS

        BAGHDAD (CWNews.com) - The papal nuncio to Iraq met with the country's foreign minister on Saturday to discuss the upcoming papal trip in December, according to reports from the Vatican's embassy in Baghdad on Sunday.

        Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto and Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf met to discuss the visit despite recent concerns regarding various aspects of the visit by Pope John Paul II to the birthplace of the biblical patriarch Abraham at Ur. Iraqi dissidents and the US and British governments have expressed concern that the repressive regime of the President Saddam Hussein would use the visit for propaganda purposes.

        Elements of the Iraqi government have also publicly demanded that the Holy Father make political statements in opposition to UN economic sanctions during the trip which has been characterized by the Vatican as a spiritual pilgrimage. The Pope has often spoken out against the effects of the embargo -- imposed for Baghdad's 1990 invasion of Kuwait -- on the weakest sectors of Iraqi society.

        Earlier this month, Vatican sources had said the visit might not take place in early December because there were serious stumbling blocks.

        According to media reports, Sahaf told Archbishop Lazzarotto that Iraq would happily receive the usual advance planning team from the Vatican and discuss details of the papal trip, they said, but added that no schedule had been set up so far.


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October 19, 1999       volume 10, no. 199
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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