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SHOWDOWN WITH IRAQ

Pontiff Sending Envoy to Hussein

Cardinal will urge Baghdad to do its part to prevent an international war.

February 10, 2003|From Times Wire Services

VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II made a dramatic appeal Sunday for world prayer to avert war and is sending an envoy on a peace mission to Iraq to try to persuade Saddam Hussein to cooperate with the United Nations.

Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, a retired Frenchman who has carried out numerous delicate papal missions, will leave for Baghdad today accompanied by a counselor, Msgr. Franco Coppola, the Vatican said.

Their mission is to show the pope's concern over the situation and ask Iraqi authorities "to reflect seriously on the need for an effective international cooperation based on justice and international law aimed at guaranteeing the people [of Iraq] the supreme good of peace," papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said in a statement.

Navarro-Valls said Etchegaray, undertaking his third mission to Iraq for the pope in 15 years, will deliver a personal message from the pontiff to the Iraqi president.

In his appeal for peace Sunday, made to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter's Square, the pope said it sometimes appeared that only God could now stop a conflict. "At this hour of international worry, we all feel the need to look to God and beg him to grant us the great gift of peace," the 82-year-old pope said.

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