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More on papal visit

Below is news report citing Vatican offical saying plans for visit to Iraq
by Pope are on hold.  However, I was told today by a high level Catholic
official in Britian that there is a lot of brinkmanship going on - so all
is not as it seems (which is probably always the case!)

Chris Cole

Number: 11397    Date: 26-Oct-99    Type: U    Code:

Breakdown in Plans for Papal Visit to Iraq?

VATICAN ( -- Preparations for a papal trip to Iraq have been
interrupted, with a top Vatican diplomat citing
the need for a "pause for reflection."

Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican's Secretary for Relations with
States, has told the Italian daily Avvenire that the
halt in preparations is the result of "some signals coming from Iraq." The
papal voyage-- originally scheduled for December
of this year-- has been in doubt since September 29, when an official Iraqi
government news service carried a stinging
criticism of the Pope, signed by several leading Iraqi intellectuals. The
criticism was taken as an indication of the
government's viewpoint. In its October 26 report, based on the interview
with Archbishop Tauran, Avvenire concludes that
the trip may be in jeopardy because the Iraqi government is seeking to gain
political advantage from the Pope's visit.

On October 21, Cardinal Achille Silvestrini had told reporters that he
still considers the papal trip "probable." But in a sign
of new difficulties in relations between the Holy See and the Baghdad
government, Archbishop Tauran said that Cardinal
Silvestrini was only voicing a "personal desire."

Chris Cole
Southwark Justice and Peace Office
Cathedral Clergy House
Westminster Bridge Road
London SE1 7HY

0171 928 9742

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