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Posted by Tony from dsc04-lai-ca-6-9.rasserver.net ( on Thursday, October 10, 2002 at 11:11PM :

Voices in the Wilderness
A Campaign to End the Economic Sanctions Against the People of Iraq


The Papal Visit to Iraq

Pope John Paul II has announced his desire to make a millenium pilgrimage to biblical sites in the Middle East. The Pope has emphacized that the pilgrimage would be "religious and Spiritual," stopping to pray at sites which "from the Old to the New Testament have seen God's intervention." Among the sites the Pope wants to visit is the city of Ur in Iraq where the prophet Abraham was born.

The trip to Iraq is opposed by the United States, Great Britain, Israel, the Iraqi opposition, and a small group of Iraqi scholars. The people of Iraq, however, are enthusiastic about the visit. Iraq has a population of 24 million; about 800,000 are christians, most of them Eastern Rite Catholics. Chaldean Patriarch Raphael Bidawid has said that the Pope still hopes to visit Ur from December 2-5, 1999. While the political opposition raises serious
stumbling blocks to a December trip, Vatican sources say the Pope's visit to Iraq will definitely go ahead, although it may have to be postponed.

Pope John Paul II has repeatedly spoken out against the sanctions on Iraq and their effect on the weakest sectors
of Iraqi society. Although the Pope's trip is "spiritual" rather than "political," Voices In the Wilderness feels that
media attention which will be focused on the trip presents an excellent opportunity to reiterate and amplify the Pope's strong opposition to these cruel sanctions to a wider public audience. VITW strongly supports the proposed
Papal journey to Iraq and offers the following resources and suggestions for communities and individuals who wish
to participate in solidarity with the Pope's journey to Iraq.

Papal Statements on Iraqi Sanctions:

* Pope condemns embargo against Iraq, January 10, 1998
* New call to end embargo as Iraqi minister visits, May 19, 1998
* Iraq embargo scored, papal visit suggested, June 15, 1998
* Vatican envoy in Iraq denounces embargo again, June 25, 1998
* Vatican calls halt to unjust economic sanctions, October 22, 1999

Statements on Iraqi Sanctions by the United States Catholic Conference-National Conference
of Catholic Bishops: *

* Letter from Archbishop John Roach, chairman, International Policy Committee, to Secretary of State James
Baker, July 16, 1991
* Testimony of Bishop James Griffin, president, Catholic Relief Services, before House Select Committee on
Hunger, August 1, 1991
* National Conference of Catholic Bishops, The Harvest of Justice Is Sown in Peace, November 17, 1993
* Statement on Iraq by Bishop Pilla, president, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, November 19, 1998
* Statement on Iraq by Bishop Fiorenza, president, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Nov. 15, 1999
The following two statements, while not "official" statements of the USCC/NCCB, were signed by the president
of the NCCB and 54 bishop-members of the NCCB respectively.
* Leaders of Major Christian Denominations Urge President Clinton to End Iraqi Embargo, September 29, 1999
* Bishops' Statement on the Iraq Sanctions to President Clinton, January 20, 1998

* Voices in the Wilderness acknowledges and thanks the Office of International Justice and Peace of the United
States Catholic Conference for making these documents, which are only a small number of the many issued
from 1990 - present on Iraq, available to us. For current documents see the NCCB/USCC web site.

Statements of Other Catholic Religious Leaders:

* Letter from the Council of Catholic Patriarchs of the East, March 6, 1994
* Statements from Archbishop Gabriel Kasab of Basrah, Iraq, 1997
* Baghdad bishop calls for peace, end to embargo, February 6, 1998
* Catholic bishops of England and Wales condemn Iraq sanctions, April 16, 1999
* Statement of the Presbyteral Council - Diocese of Davenport [Iowa], September 9, 1999

VITW Planned Pilgrimage Caravan at the Time of the Papal Visit:
Preceding the visit of the Holy See to Iraq, VitW is proposing an unusual but promising pilgrimage in Iraq. The "pilgrim’s caravan", beginning in northern Mosul, would proceed to several Iraqi cities (including Baghdad, Najaf, Kerbala, Amara, and Nassiriyeh) to visit children’s hospitals. The participants would collect messages from hospitalized Iraqi children, welcoming the Pope, and thanking him for his concern and commitment to ending the economic sanctions.

Suggested Solidarity Actions in the United States for the Papal Visit to Iraq:

Dear Friends,

Pope John Paul II has reiterated not only his opposition to the US/UN economic sanctions against Iraq, but his desire to visit Iraq before the Jubilee Year, as part of a millennial pilgrimage to holy sites. His proposed visit to Ur – the birthplace of Abraham – was scheduled for December 2-4. It could now be as late as January.Whether he travels to Iraq in December or January, we believe that this visit will promote awareness of and compassion for those who face dire humanitarian crisis facing the people of Iraq. His proposed visit comes at a time when the three great monotheistic religions celebrate redemption, rebirth, and light. The papal witness and presence in Iraq will foster greater understanding of the economic sanctions and help focus the world's attention on a people recalled by North American media only when they are being bombed.We must begin organizing now for his visit – at home and abroad – so that his pilgrimage receives widespread media coverage and stories about his visit focus on his earlier condemnations of the sanctions and the current level of suffering in Iraq today.

This packet, created in cooperation with the US Fellowship of Reconciliation, is intended to help local groups, religious bodies, and organizations prepare for his presence in Iraq. It includes:

• Organizing a vigil in solidarity with the pilgrimage of Pope John Paul II

• Sample interfaith vigil

• Sacred interfaith texts to be read at a vigil on Iraq, including quotes of the Pope

• Ritual Performance: "We Think the Price is Worth It"

• Press Release: Religious Leaders Urge End to Embargo of Iraq

• What else you can do, including Iraqi Food Basket Fast

Voices in the Wilderness is also prepared to mail out lobbying packets, so that we may better educate our congress-persons about the realities of life in Iraq today, the abysmal consequences of economic sanctions, and the immediate need to lift the embargo.

We appreciate your support of this campaign and your compassionate outreach to the people of Iraq. As we approach the holiday seasons – when Christians, Muslims, and Jews celebrate birth, practice repentance, and appreciate freedom – we ask that your thoughts and prayers rest with the people of Iraq and all efforts to free them from the cruelty of economic sanctions. Your courage and creativity allow our bold plans to see fruition.

[Voices in the Wilderness]

Voices in the Wilderness
A Campaign to End the Economic Sanctions Against the People of Iraq

-- Tony
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