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The Pontiff and The War



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From an article on religion in Italy in Friday’s New York Times:

“Italians routinely ignore the conservative Pope John Paul II in matters of private morality, like contraception, divorce or marriage (far fewer Italians are marrying, in the church or out), but admire him deeply for his stands on issues like caring for the poor or his outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq, unpopular in Europe.”

The Pope’s “outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq?”

The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Soldano, was certainly outspoken in his own opposition to the war, disgracing himself, in my judgement, by behaving with as much high-handed ignorance as if he’d been secretary of state to Jacques Chirac. But the Pontiff himself? John Paul II did indeed urge all parties concerned, including the United States, to explore every diplomatic avenue before resorting to war, which is, of course, just about what one would expect of a pope. Despite the desire of reporters for the Times to claim the pope for their side, however, I am unaware of a single statement in which John Paul uneqivocally opposed the war.

If I’m wrong—if the Pope was indeed “outspoken” in his “opposition to the war in Iraq”—then it should prove an easy matter for readers to correct me, sending along quotations from the pontiff. Place “pope” in your subject line.



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