DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY     October 28, 1999     vol. 10, no. 206

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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IRAQ PAPAL VISIT DELAYED TO JANUARY

        VATICAN (CWNews.com) - A visit by Pope John Paul II to Iraq has been delayed until January, according to the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon on Wednesday.

        Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid told the Vatican news agency Fides that the time required to organize the visit precludes the visit until after the new year. "There is no longer time to organize a visit for the start of December, and now we expect Father (Roberto) Tucci to come in mid-November," Bidawid said. Father Tucci leads the papal advance team that travels to future papal visit sites to organize the trip with local officials.

        The patriarch continued, "If Father Tucci had been able to come in early October perhaps the Pope could have come in December, but this was impossible because of preparations for the Holy Father's journey to India and Georgia, and the organization of the Pope's pilgrimage to us was postponed. But we are confident he will come!"

        The Holy Father intends to travel Iraq to visit Ur, the birthplace of the biblical patriarch Abraham, but several Western nations and Iraqi dissident groups have urged him to cancel the trip. Some groups believe Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will use the papal visit to pressure the international community to lift economic sanctions.

        Some internal elements in the Iraqi government had also contributed to problems for the visit. A group of academics, connected to members of the regime, had released an open letter critical of the Pope and intimating that he was unaware of the effects of the UN embargo on children. The Holy Father has repeatedly, publicly voiced his opinion that the embargoes unfairly harm innocents in Iraq.


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October 28, 1999       volume 10, no. 206
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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