Too bad Catholics aren't "real" Christians such as yourself, right Ronnie??
Pope Calls for All Catholics to Fast on March 5 Against War in Iraq
By Frances D'emilio Associated Press Writer
Published: Feb 23, 2003
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope John Paul II called on Catholics to fast on Ash Wednesday in the name of peace and said again on Sunday he worried a U.S.-led war against Iraq could unsettle the entire Middle East.
Looking wan and tired, John Paul opened his traditional Sunday remarks from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square by denouncing war as a way to resolve the conflict.
"We Christians in particular are called upon to be sentinels of peace," John Paul said, calling on Catholics to dedicate their fasting on Ash Wednesday, March 5, for the cause of peace.
On that day, the pope said, faithful will pray for "the conversion of hearts and the long-range vision of just decisions to resolve disputes with adequate and peaceful means."
He said that the fast, which Catholics traditionally conduct at the start of Lent to prepare themselves for Easter, is an "expression of penitence for the hate and violence which pollute human relations."
Fasting, an ancient practice shared by other religions, he said, also lets faithful "shed themselves of all arrogance."
Rainbow-hued peace banners fluttered in the crowd of tourists and pilgrims in the square. Surveys have shown Italians and many other Europeans oppose war, even if waged under the aegis of the United Nations, and earlier this month, about 1 million Italians marched through Rome to protest against the United States and its push for using military force.
"For months the international community is living in great apprehension for the danger of a war, which could unsettle the entire Middle East region and aggravate the tensions unfortunately already present in this beginning of the third millennium," the pontiff said.
"It is the duty of all believers, to whichever religion they belong, to proclaim that we can never be happy pitted one against the other; the future of humanity will never able to be secured by terrorism and by the logic of war," John Paul said.
While the pope has been hailed as a champion of peace by anti-war demonstrators ranging from environmentalists to communists, some in Italy challenged his view.
Radical Party leaders Sunday denounced what they saw as the pontiff's "equating terrorism and war, whatever war." Led by Marco Panella, the Radicals say they would like to see Saddam Hussein in exile and a democratic government under U.N. auspices to replace the Iraqi leader.
John Paul has been holding practically daily meetings with key players in the crisis over Iraq. In his latest effort, on Saturday, he met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has been trying to line up support in Europe and elsewhere for Washington's insistence that military force is necessary if Baghdad doesn't quickly and completely comply with U.N. disarmament resolutions.
John Paul, 82 and struggling with Parkinson's disease and other health problems, appeared weary, his voice trailing off in the final words of his appeal, "blessed are the peacemakers," a phrase from the Gospel of Matthew.
John Paul made similar calls against conflict in the months before the 1991 Gulf War, but in this campaign, with the memory of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks making the world particularly apprehensive, he has seemed more determined than ever to do his part to persuade decision-makers against going to war.