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Rather interesting to see that amongst the leaders in the Catholic Church there is overwhelming opposition to war against Iraq and there is a definite hostility towards the US and a deep recognition of the fact that US policy towards Iraq is fueled by a lust for oil and power. Andrew +++++++++++++++++++++++++++ IRAQI BISHOP LASHES OUT AT US VATICAN, Jan 20, 03 (CWNews.com) -- Bishop Mikhael Ali Jamil, an Iraqi native now living in Europe, has issued a harsh denunciation of American policy toward his homeland. Bishop Al Jamil serves the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch, as an apostolic visitor for Europe. His base is in Rome, and he made his remarks on the mounting crisis in Iraq in an interview with the Roman news agency I Media. The bishop remarked that among the ordinary people of Iraq, the dominant question is: "Is it going to happen?" He added that the Iraqis are particularly fearful of a war that would divide their country, "which would be a terrible thing for our nation, because we have always lived in fairly good unity." Bishop Al Jamil gave his support to the accusations advanced against US policy makers by the Jesuit editors of Civilta Cattolica. Asked whether he agree with the Jesuit journal's charge that US policy is based on economic motives, he replied: "That's obvious!" The bishop pursued the claim further, claiming that "the US intends, with the help of local powers, to break down Iraq economically and even intellectually. He said that arguments about weapons of mass destruction-- which many other countries possess-- are "excuses for dividing Iraq, to gain better access to the oil and the riches of the Gulf." The bishop also expressed certainty that American policy is heavily influenced by Israel: "a country that is afraid of peace and its consequences." He charged that US policy has sought to weaken the Arab world, in order to avoid settling the claims of the Palestinians who command Arab support. The bishop also warned: "If this war that American wants against Iraq does break out, it would inevitably lead to other conflicts in the Middle East." The Iraqi bishop denied reports that Christians are oppressed within the Arabic world, and especially in Iraq. While acknowledging that religious freedom is not as broad as in Europe, he pointed out that Catholics practice their faith openly in Iraq, without fear of the consequences. He pointed to the prominence of Tariq Aziz, a Catholic who serves as deputy prime minister under Saddam Hussein. Reporting that international sanctions have taken a heavy toll on the Iraqi people, Bishop Al Jamil complained that most nations have been silent in the face of that suffering-- as well as in the face of threatened war. "John Paul II is the only one who always defends the Iraqi people," he said. Asked whether he considered a war inevitable, the bishop replied: "For a long time, I have had the impression that war would not come to pass. But is that a desire or a vision? I just hope it is true." _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk