Posted by Lilly from ? (22.214.171.124) on Wednesday, December 18, 2002 at 11:34AM :
Chaldean Patriarch of Iraq Makes Plea to American People
PATRIARCH OF IRAQ MAKES A PLEA FOR PEACE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
++++ Confirms deaths of an estimated 4500 children EVERY MONTH in Iraq due
++++ Says that President Clinton lied to the Pope.
++++ Says "The Gulf War only strengthened Saddam and punished the people"
ROME, FEB 16, 1998 (ZENIT) - While preparations are being made for war
against his country, the Chaldean Patriarch of Iraq, Raphael Bidawid, on
visit to Rome, has made a plea for peace to the American people through the
Vatican News Agency FIDES: "Pressure your government not to attack my
people. It would be something unworthy of a great country such as the
United States of America."
The Patriarch, spiritual guide of the majority of Iraq's Christians --who
still celebrate their liturgy in Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus--
has been in Rome for the past few days. Of the 20 million Iraqi citizens,
some one million are Christians. Of these, 80% are Catholics belonging to
either the Chaldean or Latin Rites. During his stay, the Patriarch has had
the chance to meet with Pope John Paul II and to personally thank him for
his intervention to try and prevent the outbreak of war. The Pope confided
to him that "the people of Iraq have been in my prayers every day."
FIDES: How is the expectation of a possible conflict affecting the daily
lives of the Iraqi people?
RAPHAEL I: Life in Iraq goes on pretty much as normal. The people aren't
aware of the international tensions, in part, because in a regime such as
ours, the people are not the protagonists of politics, yet they suffer the
consequences of their leaders' decisions and only receive the information
given them. Because of the blockade, there is a lack of food and medicine.
An estimated 4,500 children are dying every month as a result. Since 1990
more than one million children have died because of the lack of food and
medicine. The people get poorer by the day; the currency has devaluated
more than 5,000%; unemployment is rampant and the cost of living is
astronomical. We can't go on like this!
FIDES: But, don't you believe that the leader of the country is
responsible for this situation?
RAPHAEL I: The war is responsible for all this. Look, the 1990 conflict
only helped to strengthen the government of Saddam. That is why I say that
war is useless. Ever since the war broke out in 1990, the people give even
greater support to the government. It may seem like a paradox, but that's
the way it is. The war has only strengthened Saddam and punished the
people, increasing the misery of their situation. Back then, I wrote to
President Bush to ask him not to attack my people. I was accused of being
an accomplice of Saddam since I tried to avoid the conflict. Now, I have
written to Clinton. The Pope also asked Bush to try to avoid the
intervention, and he received certain guarantees that the war would not
take place. The President of the Unites States lied to the Pope. And now it
seems that history is repeating itself.
FIDES: American sources claim that Saddam has hidden his arms in Algeria,
Sudan, and Libya.
RAPHAEL I: That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. My country is
under blockade, almost nothing can come in or go out. How could the
government transfer arms? With a special tunnel built to smuggle arms that
would reach to Algeria, Karthoum, or Tripoli? Do you really believe that
Saddam has arms in his palaces? Even if he had, by now he would have
already relocated them. Saddam's biggest worry right now, since he knows he
cannot bear another conflict, is to avoid provoking a confrontation. The
truth is that he wants the blockade removed and he's willing to risk
everything in order to achieve it. And the people, unfortunately, are
behind him all the way on this point. No people should be humiliated to
this extreme. The people of Iraq believe it is better to die fighting than
to continue suffering misery and humiliation.
Courtesy of the ZENIT news agency,
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