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Re: the Independent: better Pope to Iraq than warplanes

Colin Rowat wrote:
Andreas Whittan Smith's:
Message to the State Department and Foreign Office: back off!
Moonirah wrote:
CASI is for matters appertaining to Iraq's sanctions I believe.

Venturing into topics involving Islam, Judaism and Christianity, plus the Pope's wishes,
with the greatest of respect, might hinder, not help.
There are some very delicate reasons surrounding this and I for one am not going further
into references to religions. Wow ! A hot cake !
It is not just world governments that should back off on religious issues, has the writer
of that column actually thought seriously of the fact, IRAQ is a MUSLIM country, albeit
Saddam seems to often base his policies on Soviet dogma and tactics.  True practicing
Muslims inside IRAQ and outside IRAQ, in any country could be asked to up-date Andreas
Whittan Smith on the matter of whether it would be wise for the pope to now enter Iraq. 
Ask them about "KUFFR" for starters because true believers in Islam would say, thank you
but no thank you,
Pope John Paul II.  You are treading on egg shells here with this. 
Colin Rowat wrote:
> The following column by Andreas Whittan Smith was in today's Independent. He makes the nice point 
>that Abraham, in whose steps the Pope wishes to follow, plays an important role in Islam, Judaism 
>and Christianity.
> Colin Rowat
> Coordinator, Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
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> [The Independent 20 September 1999  Andreas Whittan Smith]
> `How dare our government suggest to a pilgrim Pope that he shouldn't
> follow in the footsteps of Abraham'
> WHEN I read last week that the British and American governments were
> trying to persuade Pope John Paul II to cancel his plans to visit the
> ancient city of Ur, birthplace of Abraham in southern Iraq, I felt a >pang of anger.  How dare 
>the two governments suggest to a pilgrim Pope >that he should not follow in the footsteps of 
>Abraham, going on to >visit Egypt, where Abraham lived in exile, and Israel - "the land that >I 
>will show you"?
> The objections are the standard usage of Anglo-American diplomacy.
> The
> Pope's arrival will bring great comfort to the Iraqi government.
> Saddam Hussein will inevitably greet him; pictures of the meeting will > go round the world.
> More seriously for the superpower and its faithful ally, the
> accompanying journalists will report the misery that nine years of > sanctions have inflicted 
>upon the population. This will weaken public > support for continued sanctions and the enforcement 
>of two no-fly > zones. Indeed, daily sorties are flown over Ur. The equation is
> simple:we lose, Saddam gains.
> Let us leave such considerations to one side for the moment, and > consider the Pope's plans. The 
>ruins of the great Mesopotamian city of > Ur of the Chaldees are an unusual starting-point for 
> Why does this old, frail, but resolute Pope, who must believe that he > is near the end of his 
>ministry, fix his attention now upon Abraham ? > The first Book of the Bible, Genesis, tells us 
>that Abraham and his
> family had migrated from Ur and settled in Haran, 500 miles to the
> north west, when God told him to "go from your country... to the land
> that I will show you. I will make you a great nation, and I will bless
> you, and make your name great." It was an arduous undertaking,
> requiring immense faith.
> The Promised Land was infertile and populated by Canaanites; his wife,
> Sarah, hadn't been able to have children. Eventually, as Mesopotamian
> law allowed, she let him have a child by a servant girl, Hagar.
> But then, miraculously as it must have seemed, Sarah became pregnant
> and gave birth to a boy, Isaac. However, a few years later came the
> terrible command from God: "take your son, your only son Isaac, whom
> you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt
> offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you".
> In Karen Armstrong's commentary on the Book of Genesis,
> In the Beginning,
> she sees Abraham as a man of vision who had the imagination to look
> beneath the unpromising surface of events. The verb "to see" recurs
> constantly in the Abraham story; he was a man, she writes, who "had >learnt to look with the 
>inner eye of the soul".
> Is it this which attracts Pope John Paul II to Abraham?
> There is a second feature of the biblical account which suddenly >appears relevant. Abraham and 
>Hagar's child was also a boy, Ishmael. >But once Sarah's own child had arrived, she insisted that 
>Hagar and >Ishmael be sent away. God commanded Abraham to obey, but pledged that >Ishmael would 
>also be the father of a great nation. Hagar went off into >the desert with Ishmael. They survived. 
>Ishmael became a mighty archer
>and, according to tradition, the father of the Arab peoples. In his
>person, therefore, Abraham brings together the three great >monotheistic religions, Judaism, 
>Christianity and Islam. Is the Pope >beginning to plan how to secure closer relations between the 
>three faiths?
> But even the Christians of Iraq - there are one million out of a
> population of 17 million - are divided. There is the pitiful remnant > of the Church of the 
>oldest surviving Christian heresy, the Nestorians > or Assyrians, whose expulsion dates back to 
>431. They stressed the
> humanity of Christ and refused to recognise Mary as the Mother of God. > After flourishing 
>mightily for 1,000 years, the Nestorians have since
> suffered a series of reverses, not least Rome's success in the 17th
> century in attracting a substantial number of them back into its fold
> with the offer of rite - that is, the privilege of retaining
> ecclesiastical autonomy, local liturgies and canon law, in exchange
> for recognising the supremacy of the Pope and altering their creed.
> It is this body, the Chaldean Catholic Church, which has invited the > Pope to Iraq.
> If his visit to this church takes place, as seems likely, the Pope
> will have something to gain as well as to impart. For these old
> Christian communities of the East have retained what many suppose to
> be the atmosphere of the Early Church. There is no kneeling;
> supplicants assume the ancient upright pose, with arms half-extended
> and palms held upwards, before addressing the Almighty. The Pope's
> visit will bring great solace and permanently strengthen the
> community.
> This explanation of the Pope's "ardent" wish to make the pilgrimage,
> if it is correct, could gain only grudging respect from the State
> Department and the Foreign Office. Whatever Robin Cook may say about
> ethical foreign policy, the officials conduct realpolitik. But these
> diplomats should at least remember Cuba. The Pope went to the island
> early last year. He naturally had talks with President Castro. And
> there, visibly, the Pope's moral authority prevailed.
> Remember also Poland, where John Paul II strengthened the forces
> opposed to the Communist government of his homeland.
> Frankly I don't believe that Saddam Hussein will be impressed by his
> visitor.  But perhaps others in the dictator's circle will be.
> Tariq Aziz, the deputy prime minister, who is a Christian, may feel
> the Pope's moral force. However it turns out, I would rather see the
> Pope in Baghdad than American and British warplanes ceaselessly
> patrolling the skies above.
> Message to the State Department and Foreign Office: back off! 
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