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[casi] Pope John Paul II "Deeply Worried" Over Potential Iraq War

Pope "Deeply Worried" Over Iraq
.c The Associated Press

VATICAN CITY (Jan. 4) - Pope John Paul II is ''deeply worried'' as tensions
increase over a possible war in Iraq, a top Vatican official said, adding
that no country can act alone to police the world.

The comments by Archbishop Renato Martino, prefect of the Council for Justice
and Peace and the Holy See's former U.N. envoy, came amid a series of Vatican
criticisms of a possible war in Iraq. In the last two weeks, the pope himself
has called for peace in the Mideast, although without explicit reference to

Martino, in an interview with Rome's La Repubblica newspaper published
Saturday, described the pontiff as ''deeply worried.''

''The pope lives the drama of the moment, he feels involved personally,''
Martino said.

Martino argued that ''unilateralism is not acceptable.''

''We cannot think that there is a universal policeman to take a stick to
those who behave badly,'' he said.

Asked about the idea that some in the United States want the country to act
alone, he said: ''It's because American society is very close-knit and it
feels sure of itself. Then there's the aggression it suffered on Sept. 11.
The fact that they hadn't ever suffered aggression on their own territory
played a role in the reaction, which can be understood.

''Yet it's clear that - being part of the international assembly - the United
States must also realize the needs of others.''

Several Church officials have expressed grave concerns about a possible
U.S.-led war against Iraq. The pope's Christmas message called on the world
to ''extinguish the ominous smoldering of a conflict,'' although the pontiff
did not mention Iraq by name.

The Bush administration has threatened to use the American military to disarm
Iraq if it does not give up its banned nuclear, biological and chemical
weapons as required by U.N. Security Council resolutions. Iraq maintains it
has no more banned weapons.

 AP-NY-01-04-03 1344EST

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