Thu Jul 21st, 2005 at 05:18:07 AM EST
It was on January 24, 2002. Pope John Paul II had gathered in Assisi, the home of St. Francis, the gentlest saint, 200 world religious leaders in a day of prayer.
Roman Catholics, Muslim clerics, Jewish rabbis, Buddhists, Sikhs, Bahais, Hindus, Jains, Zoroastrians, and members of African traditional tribal religions gathered to pray for an end to war, an end to violence, an end to terrorism.
The Pope wanted the day of prayer to reinforce his message after the 11 September attacks that religion must not be a motive for conflict in the 21st Century.
The message the Pope gave to the world, and in solidarity with the world's religious leaders was this:
"Never again violence!
Never again war!
Never again terrorism!
"In the name of God, may every religion bring upon the earth justice and peace, forgiveness and life, love!"
Of all the critics of the US/UK war of aggression on Iraq, there was probably no one on earth more powerful and influential than the late Pope. "He condemned the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as 'inhuman' but urged the United states to react with restraint, and he sharply criticized the US led war against Iraq in 2003."
Pope John Paul II calls War a Defeat for Humanity: Neoconservative Iraq "Just War" Theories Rejected
by Mark and Louise Zwick
The most consistent and frequent promoter of peace and human rights for the last two decades has been Pope John Paul II.
From Iraqi War I to Iraqi War II, he has echoed the voice of Paul VI, crying out before the United Nations in 1965: War No More, War Never Again!
John Paul II stated before the 2003 war that this war would be a defeat for humanity which could not be morally or legally justified.
In the weeks and months before the U.S. attacked Iraq, not only the Holy Father, but also one Cardinal and Archbishop after another at the Vatican spoke out against a "preemptive" or "preventive" strike. They declared that the just war theory could not justify such a war. Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran said that such a "war of aggression" is a crime against peace. Archbishop Renato Martino, who used the same words in calling the possible military intervention a "crime against peace that cries out vengeance before God," also criticized the pressure that the most powerful nations exerted on the less powerful ones on the U.N. Security Council to support the war. The Pope spoke out almost every day against war and in support of diplomatic efforts for peace.
John Paul II sent his personal representative, Cardinal Pio Laghi, a friend of the Bush family, to remonstrate with the U.S. President before the war began. The message: God is not on your side if you invade Iraq.
The most desparate bid to prevent the war on Iraq in 2003 was put forward by Deepek Chopra, Helen Caldicott, James Twynmann and Gar Smith... they came up with an idea that if only the Pope would go to Baghdad in early March of 2003, Bush wouldn't dare bomb Iraq. Over a period of several weeks in late April and early March of 2003, this group sent a barrage of e mails to the Pope, the Dalai Lama, to Gorbachev, to Koffi Annan, to Jimmy Carter, and to Nelson Mandela. Those e mails can be found here: Chopra/Caldicott/Twynmann/Smith Plan to Prevent Iraq War
I myself am not a Catholic. But on this issue of the war on Iraq I am behind the late Pope -- I am so behind him I can't see anyone else.
It is time to draw the line, country by country, and business by business. Italy is withdrawing its troops from Iraq by September of this year. All countries should follow suit. And all countries should withdraw from contracts that derive their benefits from this illegal war. Anything less than this is a policy of appeasement. Any compromise must be considered ethical, if not practical, collusion. The war in Iraq is illegal. All profits from this war are profits derived from an international crime. This is wrong, and we know it. Pull out now. Pull out the troops. Pull out of the military contracts that promote this war and further US wars of aggression.