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October 11, 2004
Vatican Lets Bygones Be Bygones

Despite its strident opposition to the war in Iraq, the Vatican now supports US efforts to build a democracy in the Muslim nation. The Telegraph reports:

In a trenchant interview in the Italian newspaper, La Stampa, Cardinal Sodano said that as the crisis in Iraq deepened, the time had come to forget past differences over the decision to invade.

His comments appear to be part of an orchestrated campaign to galvanise military and financial support for a democratic Iraq among critics of the war such as France and Germany.

Both countries have refused to contribute troops to Iraq, while American and British occupation forces remain in the country.

A subsequent front page editorial in Avvenire, an influential Roman Catholic magazine which boasts Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope's own vicar, as a board member, calls for "tens of thousands of Nato troops" to be sent to Iraq to assist the interim government and ensure free elections.

The prominent theologian, Vittorio Parsi, criticises the "laziness" of countries that have refused to commit troops to Iraq unless all occupation soldiers are removed. The Telegraph has learnt that the editorial was almost certainly commissioned by Cardinal Ruini.

"Even the European countries that opposed the American decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime know well that an Iraq in the hands of the worst terrorists and criminals goes against the interests of all," wrote Mr Parsi.

The Telegraph believes the policy change is good news for the Bush campaign:

The Vatican's new stance will hearten Mr Blair and President Bush, whose campaign for re-election has been overshadowed by the crisis. Senator John Kerry, his Democratic opponent, has repeatedly criticised the president for failing to garner sufficient international support for the invasion of Iraq.

Well, belated Vatican support is certainly not bad news for the president, but it is a case of too little, too late. Now that Saddam has been captured, the insurgency is being rolled up, and elections are imminent, its safe to offer encouragement, but that doesnt t put the Vatican on the right side of history.

Papal efforts to engender French and German supports will likely be futile, which is good news for the Kerry campaign. They can continue with the flawed argument that France and Germany are necessary to any legitimate coalition and wont be forced to execute yet another flip flop.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Whiskey at October 11, 2004 11:44 AM

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