Pope in final plea for peace
In what has been seen as one of his most fervent pleas yet, this weekend the Pope implored Saddam Hussein to urgently comply with U.N. disarmament demands and avoid giving cause to the West to attack Iraq.
The Vatican has made it clear that it considers that a war with Iraq would be unjust, and also that it fears a war will trigger hatred against Christians and more terrorism.
The plea came a few hours before the start of a summit in the Azores bringing together President Bush and his British and Spanish allies.
In what may be his last public statement on Iraq before war breaks out, the Pope said; "The next days will be decisive for the outcome of the Iraq crisis."
From his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square the Pontiff invited the faithful to pray that "leaders on all sides be inspired with courage and long-range vision."
"Certainly, the leaders of Baghdad have the urgent duty to collaborate fully with the international community to eliminate any reason for an armed intervention," the pope said. "To them I direct my pressing appeal: The fate of your fellow citizens always has priority."
John Paul said he also wanted to remind the U.N. Security Council, which Washington has been pressing to authorize war on Iraq, that "the use of force represents the last resort, after having exhausted every other peaceful solution, according to the well-known principles of the U.N. Charter."
The principle of ìlast resortî is also fundamental within ìJust War theoryî.