THE months leading up to the Anglo-American assault on Saddam Hussein in 2003 produced some tense moments in diplomacy of the religious, as well as the secular, sort. To the dismay of American conservatives, especially Catholic ones, the ailing Pope John Paul II was unequivocal in his opposition to any recourse to war. By one count, the pontiff made this point at least 56 times.
Among those leading the Vatican’s diplomatic charge was a French prelate, then styled as Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, the holy see’s secretary for relations with states. At one point, he told 174 foreign envoys accredited to the Vatican that “a war of aggression would be a crime against peace.”
Since Iraq had not (at least since the 1991 ceasefire) perpetrated an armed attack against anyone, any invasion of that country by one or more states would amount in legal and moral terms to a campaign of aggression, the archbishop added. The use of force should only be a last resort, undertaken in strict conformity with the rules of the United Nations; and it…Continue reading